Mother’s Day is going to look a little different for us this year. No going to church with my kids. No meeting at a state park for a family picnic with my parents. No quiet chatting with the husband while kids fall asleep on the way home. No hike, because even the weather is less than ideal!
I’m betting today is going to look different for you, too.
I wrote the following words last year as a reminder to myself that the beautiful moments of motherhood aren’t wrapped up in a single day. That I can appreciate being a mom even when I don’t feel appreciated. And I can acknowledge the hard bits, but lean into the good.
Little did I know that they’d be even more applicable this year!
So I’m posting not only last year’s words, but also an invitation to dwell on the best bits of motherhood today and to share your favorite pieces with others, most of all the people you love.
Mother’s Day 2019
What’s your favorite part of motherhood?
Why am I asking? It’s my small attempt to encourage a perspective shift (in myself and others) as the “Big Day” approaches.
Because Mother’s Day is tricky.
Much like birthdays and other “appreciation days”, it’s easy to anticipate the day with expectations of receiving certain gifts, hearing certain words, and feeling certain emotions.
Often, the day falls flat because the people in our lives don’t live up to what we want them to be saying and doing.
After all, don’t they know how much we do for them every day? How much we pour ourselves out for their happiness? Is it too much to ask to be able to sleep on for one day or not have to make dinner? Is it too much to expect a thoughtful gift or to hear words of appreciation?
And before you know it, the day is over and we’re left with a tangled mess of unmet expectations, frustration, and anger at the ones we love most (and the ones that love us most!).
So let’s do our best this year to keep the focus where it belongs on Mother’s Day- on the little loves who made us mommas.
Give yourself the gift of scooping up your baby and breathing in his hair for a moment. Of sitting down with your teenager just to chat. Of going on a slow, destination-free walk with your toddler. Of laying next to your kindergartener as she proudly stumbles through reading aloud.
Give yourself the gift of enjoying motherhood, in all its mess and glory, regardless of whether your kids and your spouse (or even you!) live up to your expectations, for just one day.
Because you are an amazing, strong woman on this beautiful (and difficult!) journey of motherhood.
How in the world do you have time to sew when you still have kids at home??
It’s a question I get a lot.
More than a lot.
With many people having to work from home over the next several weeks, I thought I’d finally take a minute to share some methods that have helped me out over the past few years.
But, before I get into how I find time to create and work from home, there are some things you should know for context:
First, I don’t crave a spotless house. Second, I have kids that are old enough to help with chores. Third, I have a firm “people first policy”. More on that later. Fourth, our family is not dependent on my income.
So what I’m about to share here might not work for you. That’s okay! We’re all unique and operate differently in our day to day lives. Don’t feel my jive when it comes to working from home? I have a whole bunch of links in this post that might lead to something more your style (and keep you from having to scroll Pintrest to find what you’re looking for)!
Okay, now that’s out of the way, here’s my current approach to handling a bunch of kids and a small sewing business.
Routines and Rhythms.
It used to be that I didn’t have much passion for utilizing a routine in our home. Between working, going to school, being in the Army Reserves, and having kids left and right, there didn’t seem to be a ton of time to figure out a routine in the first place- other than a consistent nap schedule, that is!
A few days into my first summer as a newly minted stay at home mom, though, my five year old asked if I could add a little more structure to our days.
Yes, my five year old.
So I moped around for a bit, complaining to my husband that our daughter didn’t like my free-living approach to life. And then I gave in.
Turns out having routines and rhythms in our day made us all function a bit better and enjoy life a little more. In fact, most of the points I share below have to do with routines and rhythms.
Oh how I’ve changed.
One of the most important factors here is that everyone contributes to keeping our house running, not just me. However, I will admit, sometimes my husband and I need to have some “lively discussions” with the kids about this. Someday it will pay off. *fingers crossed*
Here’s the chore chart we keep on our fridge. Each day has a theme on the top section, and I dole out separate chores within that theme to each family member. During the school week, these are their after-school chores. They do them after snack and free reading/chatting time, and before going outside to play. The bottom section is a rotation of the after dinner chores.
When we have after school activities, the kids do that day’s chores the day before or the day after. When someone is sick, the rest of us pick up his chores for him (or her, as the case may be).
I have a monthly/yearly chore checklist somewhere gathering dust. Good intentions, I know. We’re still on a “fix things as they come up” theme there, so I may be checking these links again myself!
Mother Like a Boss: great tips and resources for how to keep homemaking consistent and fun
During the week, I stay at home with my toddler and preschooler (who goes to afternoon preschool four days). I do my best not to do any business work in the mornings or in the after school/before bedtime hours during the week. Keeping my day sectioned out really helps me stay less scattered.
After we stand at the living room window in the morning, waving and counting the number of kids hopping onto the bus, the littles and I (well, mostly I), clean up the kitchen from breakfast, start a load of laundry, do our chores from the top section of the chart for the day, and then have a “book break” and read together. Next, we do our best to remember to change the laundry over before heading outside for a walk when the weather’s good, or heading upstairs to play.
After lunch and getting the five year old to preschool, the toddler goes down for a nap and I get to work! I find that if I at least get the kitchen spruced up, one load of laundry done to completion, and my morning chore done, I can focus on work without feeling guilty.
Links for routines:
Time blocking: great post on how to use “time blocking” to get more out of your day
Ahh work. I love it. But (and this is a BIG but), I don’t want to be constantly looking forward to the next stage of life when all the kids are in school and I can sew as much as I want. I want to enjoy where I am right now.
So, while I still dream big, I work hard to set realistic expectations. Even then, I’m continually adjusting my expectations. And then adjusting them a little more. Through trial and error, I’ve found I’m more at peace with myself and my family (and do a better job sewing!) when I have long turnaround times for my projects and don’t pack too much into one week. And I’ve learned that production style sewing isn’t for me.
I take on fewer custom orders than I had originally hoped to be able to and have moved my business along more slowly than I had anticipated. A surprise pregnancy will do that do you 😉
Good thing life isn’t a race, people. You can move at whatever pace is right for you and your family. Don’t let social media make you think otherwise!
Down to the nitty gritty of work: I work while the toddler naps. He still takes around a two hour nap every day, so that gives me a decent amount of time to work with. On Mondays, I use that time to catch up on household paperwork such as paying bills, writing letters, or calling the insurance company for the hundredth time. Tuesdays through Saturdays I sew. Sundays, I rest or sew for fun.
My husband is usually gone a couple of evenings each week, so I use the “after the kids are in bed” time to respond to emails, write and schedule posts, update my bookkeeping, and other non-sewing related sides to running a business.
Links for working at home:
Theme days: using theme days to add structure to your week
Making time: my post on motherhood, mending, and making
Focusing: tips on focusing to get more done in short periods
All of these things are made easier for me by using a paper planner. Having space to physically write out what I need to do helps me keep it all straight. For the most part, anyway 😉
I sit down at the beginning of each week and do a “brain dump”, then portion everything out by priority/category and write it down where necessary in my planner. There are some great posts about brain dumping already written, so I’ll just link them below instead of going into detail!
Links for brain dumping and paper planners:
Brain dumping: get those swirling ideas out of your head and on to paper
I love setting goals when it comes to my sewing. Instead of just thinking about them, I keep a running list in Google Docs that I refer back to often. I started in 2017 by setting a couple of large goals for what I would like to do with my business over the next 5-10 years. Having a clear picture of what I’m aiming for has allowed me to break each large goal down into actionable steps with a timeline. This might sound a little “heady” and restrictive, but I’ve actually found it to be quite liberating when it comes to deciding what to do next in the day/week/month.
Here’s my real-life example that I haven’t shared with many people! One of my 5-10 year goals is to have enough passive income to fund free sewing classes in a women’s shelter setting. I’ve broken that down into what I’ll need to be doing 3 years from now for that to be a reality. Then broken it down again into what I’ll need to be doing next year. Then broken it down again further to what I need to be doing this year and month. And guess what my baby step is this month? Releasing my first free pattern! Nerve wracking and out of my comfort zone, yes. But I’m excited for it anyway because it’s one step closer to a goal that’s been on my heart since before starting Reclaimed for Good!
There are a lot of balls in the air every day. The one that takes priority, though, is my “people first” policy. If I’m unable to take the time to help a friend in need or sit with one of the kids when she needs attention, then I’m trying to do too much. This simple idea is how I decide how many orders to accept, how many volunteer opportunities to take, and how many extra curricular activities we’re involved in.
Routines, chore charts, goal setting, people first. All sounds pretty neat and tidy, with a little bow on top.
But, my days rarely fall into place as perfectly as this post makes them sound! Life throws some curveballs, doesn’t it? And sometimes, curveballs or not, we just need to take a break from it all and rest.
I find that having a good structure to how we live and work means that it’s easier to get back on track when we derail from time to time.
Even more than that, it all needs to be flexible. Goals can shift, schedules can change, you can have a bad day. Don’t let those shifts, changes, and tough spots define who you are. Roll with them.
Then get back at it.
Here’s the thing. I love to sew. I love to see other people sewing and creating and coming to meaningful realizations in the process. It’s important to me, so I make time for it.
I’m incredibly thankful to be living a life where I’m able to make time for it and have the resources to do what I love!
Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our sewing.
I developed the Stand Firm Zip Pouch in 2019 as a personalized gift for our church’s confirmation students. I’ve now used it to give countless gifts for a wide variety of occasions and am so excited to finally be able to share it with you!
Plus, you can get it FREE when you sign up for Reclaimed for Good’s quarterly newsletter below!
With the Stand Firm Zip Pouchpattern, you’ll receive everything you need from designing your own lining fabric to sewing a zipper for the first time if you’re new to sewing. It’s a quick and simple sew, but has such a personalized result. I genuinely enjoy creating each and every one!
Check out the pattern page here for more info and a video tutorial. Just don’t make fun of my first time on tape 😉
Also, for a short period of time, I’ll even have a small number of kits available on Etsy!
I wake up in the morning, get five kids fed and ready for church, sit in a sweltering balcony by myself with them so we don’t put on a wild show for everyone else in the sanctuary, hold Cheerios with one hand for my toddler, point to the words in the hymn for my Kindergartner with the other, bounce the baby on my knee, and use my foot to nudge one of the preteens so they’ll quit sulking and pay attention.
Just another Sunday morning.
My pastor husband asks me after the service what I thought about the sermon. My response is usually, “What sermon?”
Sundays are just plain rough in this phase of life. (More on our Sunday rodeos here.) I’m not able to sit in church, soaking in Scripture, focusing on the day’s teaching, and reveling at being part of the body of Christ.
But maybe this phase of life can serve as a reminder that being in the Word isn’t just a Sunday morning activity. Maybe, just maybe, it can be an encouragement for dwelling in the Word during the entire week.
Therein lies the rub, though, right? How do you find the time to drink in the Word when you barely have time to drink your morning coffee?
A while ago, an amazing group of ladies had a Facebook thread going about how to fit daily Bible reading into the hectic mom life. I followed along, eager for a magic formula that would give me the space and time to immerse myself in Scripture on a regular basis. Because those Sunday morning snippets weren’t cutting it.
There were some great ideas ranging from morning routines to naptime devotions to audio Bibles and devotion apps. I found that many of the ideas revolved around organizing your day and setting up routines to fit in regular Scripture reading. The thing for me, though, is that I found those ideas left room for me to have an excuse to push off devotions until I had the chores done. Or if the baby had a rough night, so I overslept in the morning and our routine was off, I would push my Bible reading aside until the next day. And then the next day. And then the next.
I found myself waiting for my life to be organized and the rhythms of of day to be running smoothly before spending time in personal devotion.
Thankfully, one comment on that Facebook thread really struck home for me and completely changed my persepctive. A friend of mine said, “Just do it. No excuses.”
So I quit waiting for the perfect, quiet time to read. Quit waiting for the chores to be done, the little kids to be sleeping at the same time, the big kids to be playing together nicely, my coffee to be hot, and for the table to be cleared. And I read whatever amount of the Word I could read while holding a fussy baby with one arm and gulping down my breakfast with the other. Sometimes it’s just a few verses, sometimes the stars align and I can read for fifteen minutes.
Over the months I’ve discovered that whatever the amount, whatever our state of mind, whatever the mess, the Word of God remains. And I can remain in it.
Routines can falter. Rhythms can syncopate. Sundays can be exhausting. Life can be (and usually is!) messy.
God meets me there anyway. And He promises to meet you too.
Rest in His Word today, friend.
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.
Not sure where to start? Here are some of my favorite resources for daily devotions:
First 5– Short and sweet devotions paired with a Scripture reading each week day. Read with the online community, a small group, or on your own. I do these every day with a long distance friend who keeps me accountable!
YouVersion Bible App – This is a great Bible app. For all your auditory learners out there, this one will even read the Bible to you!
Looking for a way to design your own lining fabric to use with the new Stand Firm Zip Pouch pattern? Spoonflower.com has made it easy to do yourself. And now I’m trying to make it even easier by giving you step-by-step instructions on how to use Spoonflower to make your lining piece! Follow the arrows on these photos (and written instructions, of course), to quickly make something unique and personalized for your zip pouch lining.
If you’d rather just grab a presdesigned verse, I have several available in my Reclaimed for Good Spoonflower store. Make sure to choose “Lightweight Cotton Twill” as the fabric type and “Test Swatch” as the size. (Full disclosure, these predesigned linings are exactly the same price as the ones you would design yourself, I just earn a very small commission on the purchase- thanks for your support!)
Email me at email@example.com or send me a message on Facebook/Instagram if you have any questions! And please share your finished products with me; I can’t wait to see what you design!
Step 1: Head to Spoonflower and click on “Join”. If you’re already a Spoonflower member, click on “Log In” and skip down to Step 4.
Step 2: Scroll down to Create an Account. You’ll have to scroll down further than the screenshot shows here to find the button!
Step 3: Enter in your info. Self explanatory, I know 😉
Step 4: Once you’ve completed the account creation process, or if you’re already a member) log in to Spoonflower and click on “Upload Your Design” on the top left of the page.
Step 5: Scroll down to “Other Design Options” at the bottom and click on “Swatch”. This will take you onto the PicMonkey website.
Step 6: You’re now on the PicMonkey website with a blank white square. Click on the little box the red arrow is pointing to in the picture above. This is going to give you a grid to align your design on.
Step 7: In the box that pops up, click on the 8 x 8 grid and check “snap to grid”.
Step 8: Now you’re ready to add your text. First click where the red arrow is pointing, on the “Tt” image on the left of your screen. Next follow the green arrow and click “Add text”. You can then choose whichever font you’d like on the list below “Add text”.
Step 9: Add your text by clicking on the box in the middle of the white square and typing in what you’d like. The pop up box on the right of the white square has options for you to change text color, size, alignment, and add desired effects. The grid allows you to move the text box so that you align it exactly in the middle of your square. This is important for it to show up correctly in your zip pouch! For best viewing after sewing, try to have at least 2.5″ blank on the top and bottom of the text and 1.5″ blank on the left and right sides. This is where the 8 x 8 grid comes in handy! Above, the text leaves 3″ blank on the top and bottom, and 2″ blank on the left and right sides.
Step 10: Now you can add some background designs if you’d like! Click on the box the red arrow is pointing to at the bottom of the screen and click the grid to “off” so you have a blank background to work with. Next, follow the green arrow and click on the box that is second to bottom on the left side of your screen. This will show background options.
Step 11: Choose the background you’d like to use by clicking on one of the choices and selecting your desired options before clicking “Apply”. There are lots of different choices and variations, so have fun looking around!
Step 12: Once you’re satisfied with your image, go to the top left of the screen and click on “Export”. This will take you back to the Spoonflower website.
Step 13: Do not worry if your image shows up as blank after coming back to the Spoonflower website! It will come back in the next step if it doesn’t appear here.
Step 14: From top to bottom in the box on the right of your image, choose the following: Under Repeat, choose “Center”. Under Design Size, click “Smaller” or “Bigger” until the image is 8″ x 8″. Under Choose a Fabric, click on “Lightweight Cotton Twill” (this is my preferred option, but you can choose whichever fabric you’d like). Under Choose a Size & Amount, click on “Text Swatch”. Now you’re ready to “Add to Cart” and order!
Once you receive your fabric, follow the Stand Firm Zip Pouch tutorial to make your own unique zip pouch for yourself or a friend! I’m so happy you’re sewing with us!
When working on projects for Reclaimed for Good, I often find myself dwelling at the intersection of sewing and faith. Working to create something new from something old turns out to be a beautiful metaphor for the work Christ does in each of us.
I’d love to share a little of my process so maybe others can discover how faith intersects their own creative endeavors. But mostly, I want to share a sliver of hope and encouragement.
Each month of 2020, I’ll be giving away a Hope Pouch from Reclaimed for Good. Read on to see how they’re made and what’s inside. (Or just scroll to the bottom to find out how to enter 😉 ).
Every Hope Pouch starts off as a pile of scraps. Wrinkled, fraying, odd shaped, unneeded bits and pieces that appear to have no function left.
These discards are carefully made even by trimming, joined together by stitching, and pressed into place with a hot iron, until a patchwork piece is formed.
Together with other, larger scraps, the patchwork piece is carefully assembled and reborn as the exterior of the Hope Pouch.
The pouch is then lined with new material, fabric crafted from a child’s painting, and then stamped with a label of HOPE written by another child’s hand.
From scraps, tossed aside with uncertain purpose, comes a brand new creation lined with hope.
For our monthly giveaways this year, each hope pouch will come filled with a stack of Scripture encouragement cards from PureJoyCreative, a set of four notecards by Dear52, a True Hope bookmark by Knowledge of Him, and my favorite Trader Joe’s chocolate bar.
I am painfully aware that our real need is not a little zipper pouch filled with goodies, but rather something greater and far more eternal. My simple wish is that these Hope Pouches, can serve as a tangible reminder of the true hope that we have. And share a piece of the little corner where I keep discovering God’s mercy and goodness – that sweet combination of sewing and faith.
***MINI HOPE POUCH WEEKLY GIVEAWAY INFO***
I’ll be giving away one small Hope Pouch each week of social distancing rather than one big one a month. I figure we could use a ray of hope more frequently these days. Mini pouches are appx 4.5” high and 5.5” wide, with a lobster clip to make them perfect for your key chain. Plus it comes with Scripture encouragement cards from @purejoycreative and a blank greeting card from @dear_52
We all know that there’s fabric to be found at Joann Fabrics, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, and large online stores like fabric.com and fabricwholesaledirect.com. Even Amazon carries fabric! But if you’d rather buy locally, sustainably, ethically, or just want to try something new, don’t think you’re out of options! You might be surprised at the amount of other places you can “buy small” and still find great fabric for your projects. Here is a list of a few of my favorites:
Start with what you have!
Before you go anywhere, try using a critical eye and be amazed at what you have around your home that you can use to sew. Old sheets and curtains, clothes past repair, couch pillow covers that need a refresh, scraps from old projects, even discards from friends and family (hint: your grandma might have a stash of old fabric!)
Also, especially if you already have a fabric stash, consider deciding only to work within the realm of what you have currently available when starting a project. Sometimes the greatest creativity can be found when having to operate within limits!
Local Thrift Stores & Antique Shops
Luckily I have a local thrift store not to far from my home and an antique store just down the street. Buying from there means I’m not just buying secondhand, but the money I spend there goes back into our community. Look around for thrift stores near you that are either run locally or part of a bigger chain. It may take some extra time and digging, but treasures can be found there! I often use button down shirts from thrift stores to line my tote bags.
Online Thrift Stores
There are also online thrift stores that specialize in fabrics, both vintage and overstock.
A Thrifty Notion, based in Manhattan, Kansas, is both an online and brick and mortar second hand fabric store. They have great finds and also take fabric donations if you’re looking to destash. I love checking out their features each Friday, but they sell out quickly!
Queen of Raw is a place to find unused, high end fabric, called deadstock fabric. This fabric is generally from companies that ordered more than they needed for projects and the excess would sit in warehouses if not for organizations like Queen of Raw. It ranges from luxury leather to interior decorating, to linen, to pretty much anything you could want!
Local Quilt Shops
Local quilt shops are wonderful places. My daughter and I attempted our first quilt after winning a fabric “layer cake” from Experience Quilts. They cheered and helped us every step of the way! Nothing beats quality fabric and a personal touch!
Zipit Zippers – not a fabric store, but my favorite place to buy zippers
Think Outside the Box
One other site that’s been fun for me to use this past year has been Spoonflower. The flexibility and creativity in being able to design exactly what you want for a project is a blast! The lining of the pouch below is a combination of a painting and handlettering by my kids. They love seeing their art on fabric being used in my work!
You can always go beyond fabric, as well. The embellishments on this zip pouch are cut from old feedsacks and a coffee sleeve! There’s hidden art everywhere you look :).
I’d love to hear about your favorite places to go fabric hunting!
I go back and forth with whether to include photos of my kids (often just their extremities) on my Reclaimed for Good posts. I don’t want to use them for “likes”, and I definitely don’t want to give the impression that I’m such an awesome mom with the best kiddos ever because, “Look! My kids are super crafty and I love letting them help and we’re just amazing over here. I handle all of the things so well!”
Here’s the thing, though. These kids are a huge part of my life, so they end up in a lot of my pictures. In fact, as stay at home mom, they’re.always.around. Trying to shove them out of the way to get the perfect picture wouldn’t work even if I tried!
But I decided a long time ago that if I was going to make a go of a home-based sewing business, I had to prioritize people first. My family foremost. I can’t allow myself to consider my (five!) kids as a distraction from the life I’d rather be living. They are the life I’m living.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I sew with kids on my lap all of the time. Or I can simultaneously make supper, finish up an order, and help the middle schooler with complicated math homework, all while rocking the baby to sleep. It doesn’t even mean that I always respond with grace and a smile when I’m trying to get work done and a kid needs something. Or that I never feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of responsibility and expectations in my life and text my husband mid-day with, “WHY WON’T THE BABY SLEEP??”
It means that I do my best (and often fail) to only take on a reasonable amount of commissions each year. It means I generally only have time to sew up orders when the baby is sleeping and the big kids are at school (or resting then having screen time on non-school days). It means I need to humble myself and ask for forgiveness a lot. It means that the kids often help me with the aspects of Reclaimed for Good that they can. Trimming threads, organizing scraps, hand sewing next to me, and, yes, jumping into as many photos as possible.
To be quite honest, I didn’t consider myself remotely creative until I had kids. I didn’t even start sewing until I was 30 and my oldest daughter taught me the basics on her Hello Kitty ¾ sized Janome! I’m incredibly thankful for my kids unleashing my creative juices and ushering me into the world of “making”.
So as far as my social media posts go, they’re not the whole, messy story of our life. I don’t want them to be. Some moments are meant to be shared and pondered just within a family or circle of friends. But I do want my posts to reflect the joy that can be found in mending, making, and motherhood. There’s so much joy in this space. Even in the hard bits.
Finding contentment and joy where you are while still striving to do better. As a maker and as a mom. That’s what I hope to communicate.
Full of holes, ripped to shreds in places, barely held together.
This is us. Riddled with sin.
God sees us right where we are – sinful, worn, falling apart – and he loves us. He love us so dearly that He sent His own Son to suffer death in our place.
He didn’t send His Son so that we might stay in our tattered condition, but that we would be renewed and restored through His love, mercy, and grace.
Our selves are carefully taken apart. The sin in us, sifted out. The pieces that remain, slowly brought to new life. Sometimes with a gentle hand. Sometimes under heat and pressure. Always with love.
We are carefully stitched together into a new life.
A life as God’s masterpiece. A life with Christ. A life walking in new purpose. A life of hope for the future.
Project Notes on Grandma’s Clothing Quilt Remade:
Large quilt made many years ago out of a friend’s grandma’s clothing as she passed away (each of the grandkids received one- how sweet is that??).
After much use and washing, there was too much damage to mend on the original quilt.
My kids helped me cut out all of the yarn ties to isolate just the quilt top made with the clothing.
I carefully ripped out the stitches in each of the seams to try to preserve as much fabric as possible.
After sorting out the unusable pieces, I ironed and interfaced (as necessary) the pieces that were durable enough for more use.
I trimmed these pieces down to a uniform 5 inches, keeping the holes made from the yarn ties in the middle of the blocks.
There were enough blocks for a baby sized quilt in the same pattern (patchwork) as the original quilt, so I made a small quilt top.
I put a narrow border around the blocks before quilting for two purposes. First, to imitate the style of the original quilt which had a thick binding. Second, to help stabilize the top for quilting since there were a lot of stretchy fabrics included.
The old mesh backing was replaced with a durable broadcloth.
I stitched in the ditch to quilt the rows for added durability and also tied it with the same color yarn that was originally used. This covered back up the holes left from the ties.
I really wanted to be able to include all of the clothing fabrics that were in the original quilt in some form, so I ended up taking some of the very thin cotton pieces, interfacing them, and pairing each one next to a more durable polyester to create a small patchwork pillow.
The pillow has a zipped backing is stuffed the rest of the pieces that were too worn to include in the projects. It also holds a bag of bigger pieces that can be used for mending down the road and a small ball of yarn in case any ties need to be replaced.
Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our days.
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This past month, I had the bittersweet joy of working on three memory quilts for a family. A small quilt for a little girl who had lost her dad, and two lap sized quilts for boys who had lost their dad and their dear grandpa, too.
I’ve found that memory quilts work a little differently than regular quilts- not that any handmade quilt could ever be called “regular”!
A lot of quilts start with a fabric pull, meaning the quilter chooses the best fabrics for a specific quilt or idea. Color, shade, volume, pattern size, fabric type, and probably some things I’m missing, all go into deciding which fabrics to “pull” to use in a quilt.
Memory quilts, on the other hand, often start with textile treasures found in the homes of loved ones. A quilt pattern is then chosen based on what will work best both for those fabrics and for the people that will be using the quilt.
Often times, we’re tempted to just remember the good parts of a person that has passed away. I wanted these memory quilts I was working on to show that even where there is darkness in life, love and light can still be found. Much sketching (and quilt math!) later, I came up with three patterns to use.
**Note, the dimensions in the pictures above are not the final dimensions! If you’d like block sizes and assembly directions for these quilts, contact me and I’m happy to share!**
Now came the tricky business of prepping and cutting the material for a memory quilt.
Tricky because the clothes can be all different types and weights.
Sometimes a few layers of spray starch will be enough to help stretchy materials stiffen up, but often the lighter and stretchier fabrics need to be interfaced before piecing the quilt top. Hems, seams, and belt loops need to be unpicked if there’s a pocket or particular piece of fabric you need. Sizes of the quilt blocks you’ve planned may need to be readjusted if there’s not enough of one fabric. Patterns may not line up exactly because of fabric warping with time and because you don’t have the luxury of always fussy cutting when there’s only so much of one shirt or pants. Quilting memories takes a minute. But it’s always worth it!
A special touch for these quilts was to add embroidery stitches with the actual handwriting from Dad and Grandpa. So thankful for printable and water soluble hand embroidery products from Sulky that make this possible!
A super soft minky backing was used to help make these quilts snuggly so the kids can feel wrapped in warmth and love.
I was able to snap a few pictures before sending these out. It was a cold and windy day, so extra thanks to my mom for holding the quilts up!!
The smallest quilt used fabric from “baby girl’s” dad. I wanted her to have a big heart to know that she is hugely loved, even when times are sad. Using her dad’s jeans for the border gives a plain backdrop to make the heart really stand out. I’m hoping she will use the pockets to hide treasures and notes over the years.
The second quilt I gave the name “pocket path”. It’s for a pre-teen boy and has 11 usable pockets. Quilting around the pockets so I didn’t sew them shut was tricky, but it was important to me that they weren’t just for show! The idea behind this quilt is to serve as a reminder that there are tough times in the walk of life, but love can light the path to walk on. I cut a path through the dark fabrics, by using light colored squares to highlight this. It warmed by heart hearing how much this boy was loved by his grandpa and dad.
The last quilt was a little bit bigger and a gift for a teenage boy heading off to college soon. Like with his brothers, I wanted to accent that love brings light to the darkness that sometimes hovers around us in this life. I put a light colored heart in the midst of dark fabrics, because love can shine through and refuses to be snuffed out.
I hope these quilts bring a tad comfort and warmth in such a difficult time. It’s so meaningful for me to be able to work with the clothes of special people, creating something that will serve as a tactile reminder of how much those left behind are loved.