To Raffle or Not

My family and I have participated with the Out of the Darkness Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for the past two years. This year, we (Team Brianna) decided to try a new way to raise funds and to help raise more awareness. I thought a good idea would be to do a quilt raffle. Of course, I wasn’t sure if would be able to sell tickets let alone how much we would raise, but decided we should go for it.

A few months ago, I made a Strip Butterflies quilt by MSQC (Missouri Star Quilt Company). I picked something that I thought would be a beautiful, but a relatively “simple” quilt. And wanted to pick something that Brianna would have liked. Since she loved butterflies, this quilt was a no brainer!

Picking material, in my opinion, is the fun part. I absolutely love color! And who doesn’t love colorful butterflies! This particular quilt design required a jelly roll for the butterflies. MSQC had the perfect roll, it was called Mariposa Meadow. I’m not sure if it is available anymore, but it contained beautiful colors, watercolor, medallion, plaid and some butterfly prints. Purrfect for this project! I used a bright yellow (my son, says it’s orange. You decide!) for the sashing and binding and a nice green batik for the border.

Since this project was for a raffle, I decided I should have it professionally long armed. Of course, I took it to my favorite quilt shop, Simply Stashing Fabrics & Quilts. When I told Deb (my quilt guru) about what the quilt was for, she donated her time and long arm expertise for free. This was her contribution to help our cause. Which was way more than we could have hoped for! She graciously quilted butterflies in rainbow thread, edge to edge on our raffle quilt. It turned out amazing!

I rarely, if at all praise myself, however I am super proud of myself and this quilt because we far surpassed my wildest dreams and were able to sell 236 tickets and raised $950! Plus, what makes it even more special is that it’s the first thing our raffle winner (Kim D.) has ever won!

If you have ever considered making a quilt to raffle for a charity, I would say do it! It is not just a great way express your talents and creativity, it’s good for the soul! And this day in age, couldn’t we all use something that just makes us feel good?

Why Not

Forgive me, as I’m still playing catch up with what I’ve done up to the start of my blog. At the beginning of this year, I found a horse applique art quilt pattern kit, called Summer Breeze by Toni Whitney. It’s something that immediately made me think of my daughter, Brianna. She loved horses. Of course, I purchased this on a whim as I’d never done applique before…it was just so beautiful, I couldn’t help myself.

Although the kit included the fabric (not pre-cut) I quickly realized I needed to buy other supplies. I had to get an applique pressing sheet (Bear Threads Designs) and steam a seam 2, a double stick fusible web. I also needed a fine point sharpie, an iron and sharp scissors. Don’t worry, I did not use my good fabric scissors!

It took a lot of time to trace, and cut from the pattern. And I found myself often re-reading the directions, specifically what order to applique each piece. It is quite intricate. I found that as I progressed, it was harder to see the exact placement for each applique piece as they began to overlap. Eventually they start to cover the outlined pattern that you put the pressing sheet over. Once I got all my supplies, it took me about 2 weeks to complete, start to finish.

I think the hardest part for me was the free motion quilting. I haven’t done much of it yet. Most of my quilts that I have made I’ve been stitching in the ditch or doing simple straight lines. Nothing to fancy to date. I was hesitant at first, but finally I bit the bullet and just went for it. I wasn’t planning on giving this away, this project was for me to keep. Besides nothing I make is perfect. You will see what I mean in the closeup photos. It’s not easy to stay just inside the edge of each individual applique piece. But I think it turned out pretty darned good for my first time.

I’d like to say that while I did find it time consuming, I really enjoyed making it. I definitely see more applique projects in my future! And why not try something new. I know with time and practice, my free motion quilting will get much better. My advise is to not get intimidated, just go for it. You have nothing to lose, hence “Why not?”

Here you can see the pattern underneath the pressing sheet If you look closely, you can see pieces of the mane with the backing left on. That was because it wasn't fused until I put the outer pieces on.Finally done with the applique application! Tha free motion quilting in progress! Not perfect, but not to shabby for my first project like this.I used left over material from my other quilts for the backing.

Memory Quilts

In my first post I mentioned that I have been making memory quilts with pieces of my daughter, Brianna’s clothing incorporated. I feel the need to “catch up” to where I am today, this will be a quick rewind to present.

So far, I’ve made nine. Each one is different and I try to use the recipients favorite color and almost always make the backing blue, Brianna’s favorite color. In my Purrfectly Imperfect post, I shared our personal memory quilt, The orange and blue borders and binding are the only portion that is not her clothing. (I should mention, I did not design this quilt, Deb Curtis did) With each memory quilt I have made or am in the process of making, I incorporate pieces of her clothes into the pattern that I have designed with my EQ7 (Electric Quilt 7) program. I also try, if I have enough leftover material, to incorporated material from the other quilts I’ve made into another one. This gives them another connection other than Brianna’s clothing. So, some of them are doubly intertwined. I think this gives them a scrappy/patchy look to the quilts. Which in my opinion is part of the whimsy of what makes a quilt a quilt.

I have attached pictures of most of the nine quilts, with the exception of two of them. Those will have to wait until the recipients actually get them! After all, it wouldn’t be fair for everyone else to see them first.

Purrfectly Imperfect

Why purrfectly imperfect? Because I’m a relatively new quilter (3 years) and lets just face it, there’s nothing “purrfect” with my quilts. I think that’s part of the fun, beauty and quirkiness with my hobby. And, of course, I love cats! My sewing companion is my awesome sphynx cat, Pearl. She will literally sit with me for hours while I measure, cut and sew. She’s great company!

I’m new to blogging as well. Hopefully, you will find my thoughts and ongoing list of projects fun and interesting to follow and read about.

Let me start with why I began quilting in the first place. My daughter, Brianna, passed away on September 9, 2014. I wanted to be able to hold onto her clothes, but in a healthy way. I mentioned to my husband that I would like to make us a quilt made out if her clothes. He thought it was a great idea. I found places that we could ship her clothing to, but I honestly didn’t want someone we didn’t know creating something that was so personal for us. I decided that I should learn how to do it myself. I needed to find somewhere to take lessons.

On an afternoon, driving through Littlestown, Pennsylvania, my husband, Chris, says to me, “Did you see that?” I respond with, “see what?”. He said he saw a sign for a quilt shop. I told him I didn’t see it. So, he turns the car around. Low and behold, he indeed saw a quilt shop, Simply Stashing, so we stopped in. Keep in mind this is only 4-6 weeks since we lost our daughter. Once inside, we looked around and asked if they offered quilt lessons. We were told that they did do group classes. Then, I got nervous. I didn’t want to learn how to cut Brianna’s clothes and quilt them with a group of strangers. I knew it would be emotional for me and asked if they offered private lessons. That’s when we met Deb Curtis, my quilt guru. We explained what we wanted to do and she offered private lessons for us. Yes, I said us. Chris wanted to help create our memorial quilt for our daughter. My husband is the best, he did almost all off the cutting of Brianna’s clothes for our quilt, and I did all the sewing. We had Deb professionally longarm quilt it for us. We keep Briannas quilt on our bed and use it everyday.

I continue to make quilts with Brianna’s clothes for our family and friends. This way everyone that knew and loved her can have a little piece of Brianna with them. The rule is that if you receive one, you have to use it. Brianna wouldn’t want anyone to hang it for display, she’d want everyone to use them. And we hope that when anyone wraps themself in their quilt, they think of Brianna.

So far, Briannas memorial quilts span in 4 states, Maryland, Virginia, Texas and Colorado.

For inquiring minds, I design and create these quilts myself. I purchased the computer program Electric Quilt 7, from Deb at Simply Stashing. It makes it easy as pie!

That’s it. That’s how I became inspired to learn to quilt. Now, I’m hooked.

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