Monday, May 23, 2011

Tornado Relief

Have you seen the news lately?  The Southern United States has been ravaged by tornadoes.  Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Arkansas, and now Missouri.


Last month, when tornadoes devastated Arkansas, I was sure I would find a deluge of craft auctions, giveaways, and events dedicated to raising funds for tornado victims.  As the destruction continued across the Southern United States, I knew that the craft community would band together to provide relief for the families and communities affected.  Then, when FEMA denied funds for VA tornado victims I started to wonder when people were going to help.


I'm not innocent here. I haven't donated funds for relief; I can't, but I'll spare you the excuses.  Where dozens of bloggers offered support to raise earthquake-relief funds in March, I've only seen one fundraiser for tornado relief.


I don't want to sound like a bleeding-heart patriot, but come on people!  This is America; the land of the free and the home of the brave!  We killed Osama bin Laden (Joking!  Sort of...)  I read about so many people shelling out their hard earned money to help others in another country-- what about helping those suffering within your own country and communities?  Where is all the buzz about that?


I don't mean to be on a high horse, I just want to shed light on an area that seems to be badly neglected within our crafting community.  Perhaps all of these tragedies have been overshadowed by the buzz about quilt market.  Perhaps we are just disastered out.

It's time to get off my soapbox and get to the point:  I want you to donate to the American Red Cross.  You can donate money, you can donate time, you can donate effort, or you can donate blood.  The Red Cross badly needs disaster relief workers and blood donations; can you do either one?  If not, can you spare a few bucks to help fund shelters for those in need?


Go here to donate money.
Go here to find volunteer opportunities.
Go here to find where to donate blood.

In exchange for your donations of time, money, and bodily fluids, I will offer you a giveaway.  Anyone who donates in any of the aforementioned manners should leave a comment, including valid email address, here.  You will be entered into a giveaway to win this quilt.  I will use to select a winner on May 31, 2011. 
If you aren't interested in my giveaway, I still urge you to donate.  Having experienced the terror of tornado disaster, huddling in a dark hole, hoping that your house is still standing when you come out, is a feeling I know all too well.  As a child growing up in Texas, I would stay up all night listening to the weather radio during severe storm and tornado warnings out of fear of being crushed in my sleep.  The sound of the tornado siren instills fear into my heart to this day, and I will never forget the sight of a tornado bearing down on our family vehicle or tearing through pastures adjacent to our house.

Please, I beg you, donate.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hokie Pokey

For my entry in the Spring 2011 Bloggers' Quilt Festival I am revealing my latest creation, Hokie Pokey.  It is my second ever t-shirt quilt, made for Josh's brother, Tyler, as a graduation gift.  Obviously, he graduated from Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources & Environment with a major in Fisheries Science.  Pretty cool, right?


To create this quilt I used t-shirts and fabric provided by my mother-in-law to be.  There were about 10 tees total, and I was able to use the front and back of only a few of the shirts.


This quilt measures 54"x88"-- I'm calling that "skinny twin."  I would have loved to make this quilt larger, but the number of t-shirts dictated the size and shape of the quilt.  I chose a 3x5 layout so that Tyler could easily use this quilt to lounge on the couch in his post graduation days.  All but one of the shirts were used in the top; the last t-shirt was saved and used for the pieced backing.


Altogether this project took about 15 hours to complete, counting time spent finishing the binding.  It took two hours to prepare and cut the t-shirt blocks, six hours to piece the top (including cutting of sashing), and two hours to prepare the backing.  Attaching and finishing binding took five hours across various sessions. Yes, I kept track.


With this being my second finished t-shirt quilt, I have some tips to share.  Forge on, fearless readers, for my enlightened wisdom.

1. Fusible stabilizer smells terrible when ironed, but it is completely necessary.  I suggest that people cut the shirts, stabilize them, and then trim them down to the desired size.  My iron did not slide easily across the stabilizer; when I tried to iron everything stretched and stuck to the plate of my iron.  Therefore, it is essential to press, not iron.

2.  The t-shirt blocks will stretch anyway.  Handle with care.

3.  Piece using a walking foot.  This is necessary considering Tip #2 from above.  The walking foot, combined with the stabilizer, really minimized any stretching that I experienced.

4.  Steam causes the stabilizer to unfuse.  Don't steam, even though that makes it impossible to press the seams into submission.

5.  Pinning is essential.  I am not a pinner by any means, but I did so for this project and it made a huge difference.  Though it took more time, this quilt came together much more easily and nicely.

6.  Your seams will pretty much go whichever way they feel like.  Do not try to control them.  I always pressed seams away from the jersey fabric and toward the cotton sashing; this helped to better tame the seams.

7.  Try not to let your hot iron touch the screen print on the front of the t-shirts-- the ink will smear across the fabric.  Never fear!  If this happens, rub the smudge with the tip of your iron.  You will be burning/wiping the smear away.  I don't know what to do about the smear on your iron plate; don't ask me.

8.  You can't quilt this thing yourself.  Don't even try.  My longarm quilter is the best!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Trying to get stuff done, but things just keep getting in the way.