"family"

Stowe Bag - for my Ballet Boy

Stowe Bag Grainline Studios

There is a Ballet Boy in my house. I often describe the same boy as awake or asleep. He’s never had grumpy, only happy or miserable. And he is almost never quiet if he is awake. A natural extrovert he loves to entertain and relishes a spotlight. He is almost perfect, but more than a little exhausting some days. So I was pleasantly surprised (and full of Mama pride) when my girls said they wanted to make him a bag for his ballet stuff as a Christmas present.

I picked the pattern - easy enough for them to sew but practical. The Stowe Bag from Grainline Studios is technically designed as a project bag, more for knitters. But it is just the right size for my Ballet Boy. And seemed to be an easy sew for the girls - with my supervision. They picked the fabrics. It was hard, I will admit, to let go of the green Marimekko but fabric has more value in use than on a shelf.

Granline Studios Stowe Bag

We made the bag in two sessions. I cut the fabric and they got everything prepped and the basics sewn. Then we finished off with the bias tape the next day. It was miraculously done in time for Christmas morning.

As expected the appreciation of the bag was lost on Christmas morning in the face of a Connor McDavid jersey and new Lego. But it’s been in steady use ever since. He takes it to each practice, it carrried his uniform to a gala event where he had a major solo, and it remains perfect in every way. Just like him.

The Blue Gala
Hattori Williamson Ballet

An aside: I could not recommend his ballet school any more highly. He is getting amazing opportunities, the families are wonderful, and his teachers - all former professionals - are incredible and kind.

Pattern notes:

We made the small size.

Pockets ended up being pointless. We did change the seaming to make more sense for things like holding his glasses case and slippers, but they just flop open. Would skip those next time.

We skipped steps 13 and 14 of the pattern because I mistakenly thought that was the bottom gusset creation which we determined we didn’t need. I might go back and do those steps.

Our bias tape is bigger than the pattern specifies. We were on a deadline and this one was in the stash, already made.

1 Meter - Mini Quilt With Diving History

Mini Quilts Improv Quilts

We do strange things, as parents, to motivate our children. Some of us let the child lead it all and we follow, picking up pieces, discards, and maybe trophies. Some of us drag the child behind us, charging forward and willing them to follow. Most of us are some where in between, in a world that works for your family. To each their own.

My kids are all heavy in to sports/dance. Far more than I ever planned or, frankly, would like. It is a luxury, for sure, but one I encourage. But these are paths they are forging and so long as they do 3 things I will have their back and make it happen for them.

1. Show up.

2. Do the work.

3. Have fun.

Learning to persevere, be part of a team, that practice matters, a sense of accomplishment, the personal reward of a challenge achieved, of sheer joy. All those things are great and exactly what I want for my kids, any kids, in a sport they like. It isn't always sunshine and roses and medals and smiles. As a 10 year old some pretty tough lessons can come your way. This is precisely why I like sports. It isn't just about learning to lose graciously. Facing fears, pushing yourself more today than you did yesterday, finding the joy when the work is hard, overcoming the mental crap that clouds in to our heads. All of those things matter as much, if not more. 

So my middle kid - the one we've called Evil Genius or more appropriately, Death Wish - has been diving for a couple of years. She trains with a wonderful group of kids and the amount she can push herself is shocking most days. Unfortunately, this past year was a rough one for her. She had an ugly couple of weeks and then the fear set in. Big ugly hands of fear pushing her shoulders to the ground and rooting her little feet. You may train as a team, but this is a solitary sport. Just you on the end of the board. It comes down to you making the move. She never not wanted to go to practice, but each day got more and more frustrating as the goblin took over and her joy dissipated. Her coach tried all the things, we tried all the things, even her friends tried all the things. At the end of the day, though, she had to recognize her physical skills to make it and find the mental strength. 

And I, as a quilter, channeled everyone's frustration into a quilt. It's what we do. Frankly, I was at my wit's end and more than exasperated with my kid. I won't lie about that at all. But my awesome students one night reminded me to slow down, calm down. I gained perspective making this little quilt for Death Wish Arkison. And though I gave it to her after the season and there is so much more to the story, I want to think that it shows her that we've got her back, no matter what. And I know she has mine. That crazy kid.

If you want the rest of the story and more about this crazy Mama I plan on sharing it in my newsletter next week. Make sure you are signed up - scroll to the bottom of the page!

 

Ballet Blue - A Donation for The Blue Gala

Blue Quilt Calgary Murals Instagram Worthy

Ballet Blue

72'' x 72''

When the fact that you have 3 bins if blue fabric combines with a request for a donation quilt for an event called The Blue Gala this happens.

It actually started when I pulled out some scraps to make a sample strip set for a class I was teaching. Just one block. But then the donation request came and the block was sitting there, demanding my attention. It was rather bossy, actually. And before I could stop myself I spent my mornings making more strips sets and cutting more blocks. I fell in love with the process as much as the final result.

Sew strips together, cut a block on point. Take the scraps and add more strips, cut more blocks. I became obsessed with minimizing the waste after cutting. And when the blocks are together I loved the lines the precise squares brought back. I always say with improvisational piecing that at some point you have to add the order back in. This quilt ends up a great combination of improv and precision piecing.

Blue Gala Silent Auction Quilt Donation

I digress...

When I posted the quilt top a few months ago the amazing Dara at Stitched Quilting Co offered to quilt it for me, a donation of her services to the cause. Thank you so much Dara! That girl loves her free motion work and it shows. She added depth and even more movement to the quilt.

This quilt will be part of a silent auction at The Blue Gala. All proceeds go to Pancreatic Cancer Canada. I am thrilled to support the cause for two reasons. One, my son is part of the ballet school, H/W Ballet, hosting the event and will be dancing. More important than that though, is that my father in law was taken from us too young and very quickly from pancreatic cancer. In tribute to him, I make and donate this quilt. 

If you are local or looking for a good Saturday night out you can come join us at the gala. If you aren't local but are interested in bidding on the quilt shoot me a note. I will also be on Instagram Stories that night, watching the bid. After I watch my boy dance, of course.

Blue Gala Quilt Binding Carolyn Friedlander Archtextures.

Traveller - Wrapped in Hugs

Indian Cottons Improvised Curve Quilts

Traveller

54'' x 54''

Started years ago, finished in record time. Traveller is a special quilt I made for a special person going through a rough time.

The fabric comes from India, brought home for me - the quilter in the family. I pet it, I made precisely 3 quarter circles to test out the sewing, then put it aside for years. I would show the blocks when I taught my Perfect Circles class and put them back in the bin. Then you hear the word Cancer. Cancer. And the world stops for more than a few moments. When it starts again, you, the quilter, think of making a quilt.

The quilt itself is something you want to give, to try to keep your arms wrapped around the person 24/7. It's more than that though. It is the act of making for me, the quilter, too. The act of making allows us to slow down, think about the person, and process our own emotions. It is about the quilt AND the process equally. And when the quilt leaves your hands and gets wrapped around the back of the recipient all the love gets transferred.

The top was done already, made in a fit of tangential creativity and improvisation. I'd always known I would give it to this particular recipient, but the quilt top languished in the pile of unfinished tops awaiting another round of motivation. So when I heard Cancer and surgery and a lot of time on the couch right before Christmas I pushed myself to get the quilt finished.

I made the back from a collection of sarong fabric another friend gave me. More travel inspiration! My husband helped me baste the quilt on a Saturday night. All day Sunday I quilted. Monday I bound, stitching on the winter drive with a golden thread, car light on as the sun set freakishly early on the Northern Prairies. On Tuesday it lay on the bed, waiting for recovery, waiting to lay down the hugs. 

Improv Quilts