Like most self employed parents, summer is a twisted evil. Yay for free time! Oh crap, how am I going to get anything done? This year I’ve prioritized the family and the family business. Which has meant odd hours of working and as much play as we can fit in. It’s meant cabins and camping and fancy hotels. It’s meant friends and cousins and celebrating.

And only a little bit of quilting. I won’t lie, it’s been nice to take a break from the churn, from the need for More. Content. Now.

Morning Make with the kids, quilting when I can figure out my tempermental machine, hand stitching by the lake or on a plane, storm watching, getting our feet dirty, eating as many cherries as our bellies will hold, milkshakes in the afternoon.

Summer so far…

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls

Castle Mountain

Castle Mountain

Sunset swim (plus moonlight and all the day swims)

Sunset swim (plus moonlight and all the day swims)

Best friends on the beach

Best friends on the beach

Euroa on the beach

Euroa on the beach

Vegas pool views

Vegas pool views

Actually went to Vegas to work (Woodworking tools trade show - a little bit bigger than Quilt Market)

Actually went to Vegas to work (Woodworking tools trade show - a little bit bigger than Quilt Market)

Plugging away at quilting this scrappy beauty

Plugging away at quilting this scrappy beauty

Here’s to summering where ever you are. Or wintering, for those in the Southern Hemisphere. Either way, let’s raise a glass to enjoying each day and prioritizing what is right for you right now.

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!


Absolutely Legendary Sasquatch Quilt Top

This quilt is legend... wait for it... dary.

Based on Elizabeth Hartman's Legendary quilt pattern, launched recently, but totally supersized. The moment I saw the pattern on Instagram I knew I had to do this. The sasquatch itself originally finishes  at 18'' in the pattern. With a little quilt math I made it 5 times the size. Or, if you are so inclined to believe, life size. That made the sasquatch over 90'' tall and nearly 60'' wide.

The idea of trees on the side was improvised and added because we wanted this quilt to be big enough for the entire family. Now it comes in around 90'' square. Plus, the sasquatch has context now.

The making of this quilt was a family project over the holiday break. I knew that if I was going to get any sewing in I had to expect the kids in there with me. Rather than get frustrated by that, I decided to  invite them in for this group project.

You see, we are a family addicted to Bigfoot shows. None of us actually believe in the legend, but the shows are fun to watch and it's become a family joke to observe squatchy landscapes and conjecture about samsquanch (as we oddly refer to it).

So the kids were actually quite excited to make this quilt. After I did the match we sorted through my brown stash (small) and scrap bins (smaller) and whites/creams/greys for the right fabrics. I cut everything  - discovering that a transcription error was my only mistake!. As a team we sewed. 

It was the first time I let the girls use my Bernina. A bit confusing at first with no presser foot lever, but they were amazing. Can I just say? Thank goodness for adjustable speeds! We got into a rhythm with me prepping, one sewing, one pressing. Sure, there were times when their attention died out and wrestling matches were started - and quickly stopped because we were in the sewing room. Overall, I was pretty impressed with how engaged they were in the project.

My son sewed for the first time. You should have seen his excitement! He sat on my lap and covered my hands with his and we sewed together. He even admonished me if my fingers got too close to the presser foot. 

Unfortunately, my husband was quite sick the last week of the break. So his contribution, other than feeble encouragement, was to shout design ideas or selections from the sofa in the next room. That, and keeping us on a steady diet of Finding Bigfoot for the kiddos when their energy for sewing changed.

Everyone is on me to get this quilted ASAP. My Evil Genius voted for the backing to be a scrappy green one, which I think is a good idea. It will work with brown, white, and green thread on the front. I just hope I can get them all involved with floor washing and basting if they want it done quickly.