Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spring Auction Preview #2

The twenty-fifth time's the charm, my friends!  This is my twenty-fifth quilt, and I think it is positively lovely.  It turned out just as I had hoped and imagined.

I'm just going to give you a sneak peek right now. I'm still putting the binding on it, and after that I plan to admire it and admire it and work up the courage to auction it. (Okay, okay... I promise I will; but I can't promise it will be easy.)


It's my first churn dash, which is a bit of branching out from my usual patchwork.  My husband is getting tired of patchwork.  "Bah!" I say. "Good fabric doesn't need much more," I think.  Even so, I must admit that I very much enjoyed piecing these blocks.  I see many more churn dashes in my happy future.


And just look at Anne's quilting!  My, oh, my!  She is cranking out some wonderful things these days.  More on this quilt later...

For now, I've put it on hold.  It's time to finish up the Briar Rose quilt for my oldest daughter's sixth birthday.  Maybe I'll show a picture of that one next?  It's a beauty, too, if I may say so myself, patchwork and all.

Monday, December 16, 2013

SMS Giveaway Winner + Sneak Peek!

Last week, I held a giveaway in conjunction with Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day.  The winner of the fat-eighth bundle of Heather Ross fabrics is Susan from Patchwork n Play.  I'm so excited to ship this bundle off to her.  Thanks to Anne who generously donated these lovely fabrics, and thanks to all who entered.

I especially appreciate all the kind words, thoughts, and prayers for Charlotte and for our family.  And thank you to everyone who became a new follower!  I'm so excited to have you visiting this little space.

The quilt auction will be here before we know it... are you as excited as I am?  It is seeming more and more real.  My older two children are at the grandparents' home this week, so in between taking care of Charlotte and Marian (which is no small feat, I assure you!), I am busy stitching up a storm!

I have one baby quilt finished and am putting the binding on a second.  I think we will have about a dozen quilts to auction this year (baby quilts and adult, lap size), all in support of brain tumor research.  Can you imagine my excitement when this arrived in the mail last week (or was it the week before that?):


Oh my!  Goldfish!  I just adore this fabric!  This is a crib quilt for our auction, graciously donated by Cindy from California.  I can't wait to show you more pictures - it is superb! - but for now, you'll just have to wait...

We kick off the auction on Monday, March 31, 2014.  Mark your calendars and save that Christmas cash.   :)  

More sneak peeks to come...

(P.S. In the comments last week, a few people offered help with the auction, or wanted to know more details, but they were no-reply bloggers.  If you have not yet heard from me via email, and you'd like to help, please email me at charlottesgraceforacure[at]gmail[dot]com.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway: Heather Ross Prints

It's time for Giveaway Week over at Sew Mama Sew.  If you are visiting from over there, Welcome!

Charlotte is one of my daughters and the namesake of this blog.  The short story is: she has brain cancer, so I've combined my love of quilting with fundraising for brain tumor research.  This April, we'll kick off our second annual quilt auction to benefit brain tumor research.

In the meantime, my friend, Anne, has offered up this highly sought after bundle of out-of-print Heather Ross fabrics.  If you follow this little blog, you know that Anne does a lot of my quilting, sweet friend that she is.  What you don't know, is that visiting her fabric stash is better than walking into my Local Quilt Shop.  For real.


Sorry the photo is not better.  It's been nothing but dreary here for at least a week.  Oh.  Where you live, too?  Then we understand each other.

But really, this bundle has it all: the mermaids, the fish, the octopus, the seahorses.  There are six, fat-eighth cuts (measuring about 9 by 21 inches each).  If you are into fabric, I trust you know exactly what this is.  You know you want it.  Shoot.  Even I  want it.


The Rules:

1. Just leave a comment on this post.  Maybe tell me what your current project is?  (I just finished piecing a Briar Rose quilt top.  It was my first time working with Heather Ross prints.  Ooooh... it's nice!)

2. My followers get a second entry; leave a second comment telling me how you follow.  New followers are always welcome!  :)

3. Want to spread the word?  Okay, leave another comment telling me that you pinned this to Pinterest, or spread the word on Facebook, etc., for a third entry.

The giveaway closes at 5 p.m. PST on December 13.  I will choose a winner via at that point.  Please leave an email address if you are a no-reply blogger.

*Edit: Comments and giveaway are closed.

          The winner is Susan from Patchwork and Play!  I've contacted her by email, and she is anxiously awaiting this lovely bundle.  So across the ocean they'll go... all the way to their new home in Australia!*

I'm willing to ship internationally, so this giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere.

Giveaway Day

Good luck!  And in the meantime, head back over to Sew Mama Sew to enter more giveaways.  I sure will!

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Chemo Quilt

I made this quilt for a woman who was recently diagnosed with cancer.  With four kids ages 5 and under, you might imagine that the time I can devote to quilting is limited.  So I try to refrain from making unsolicited quilts.

But sometimes a person's story hits me just so.  I think I can finally admit that I sometimes obsessively quilt as a coping mechanism.  I wish that I could make all the sickness and all the sadness go away.  I cannot.

But I can make a quilt: a tangible piece of comfort and hope.


I don't feel at liberty to share the story, so I'll just tell you about my "creative process" instead.  First, I don't know this woman.  It's hard enough to sew for someone whom I do know, let alone for someone I don't.  So I set about to dig through my (meager) stash to find fabrics that I thought would appeal to a variety of aesthetic tastes.

I have plenty of novelty prints: girls playing with dollies, girls playing with chickens, a few rocket ships, etc.  I also have a lot of bright and potentially obnoxious prints.  But no, those would not do.


Instead, I grabbed these Denyse Schmidt prints (and a few others to match) and was once again reminded of the genius of Denyse.  I would say that I have been slow to become a fan.  (But is one year really "slow?"  Probably not.)  I find this quilt to be both very lovely and broadly appealing.  Some prints are traditional and vintage-y, while others are modern... oh, they're all just so wonderful!

I didn't really like the navy print as a stand-alone piece, but I cut it up, stitched it into this quilt, and now I really think it makes the quilt, you know?  And like I said in this post, I firmly believe that one can never go wrong with half-square triangles and plenty of Kona White.


Also, I wish I could say that I planned this (I did not), but as I was sewing I was thinking of how these colors are so soothing.  It was therapeutic for me to stitch the fabric together.  I realized that, "Of course! They are 'cool' on the color wheel!"  So I hope that the quilt is calming for the recipient as she undergoes treatment.

This is a "chemo quilt" because it only measures approximately 25 x 50 inches.  So it's small enough to stuff into an oversized bag for a trip to a chemo treatment, and still big enough to keep a person warm during the infusion.


I stitched the word "HOPE" on the back for two reasons.  First, many cancer centers, including Duke where Charlotte is treated, have a line about hope.  For example, "At Duke... there is HOPE."  We have certainly found this to be true.

Second, Christianity has much to say on the topic of HOPE.  Speaking from experience, having complete strangers preach at a person with a brand-new cancer diagnosis is pretty much the pits.  But one word of encouragement from someone who shares your faith?  I think that is appropriate.

Charlotte is just one of the faces of hope, but dare I say she's the cutest one?  

My sweet Charlotte knows all about hope.  She wasn't expected to live past her six-month birthday.

It's hard to believe that was over two years ago now - what grace!  

P.S. Please chime in... do you sew quilts for people you don't know? Or for someone who has not requested a quilt?  How do you choose the fabric and pattern?

(Linking up to Quilt Story, NTT, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Crazy Mom Quilts.)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Second Annual Quilt Auction: April 2014

Last week, I shared with you that I've not been doing much quilting for next year's auction.  In fact, I did put together this little quilt (with the help of my friend, Anne), but guess what - it has already been snatched up!


The fabric is the Riley Blake line "Happy Ever After," and I used a pattern found in Growing Up Modern  by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew.

My friend, Trudy, takes care of my youngest daughter, Marian, every Wednesday while I take Charlotte to the hospital for her chemo treatments.  Trudy is like another grandma to Marian. She has been so very generous with her time to her, and so very generous with her pocketbook to our quilt auction, so this quilt has already found a home with Trudy's granddaughter, April.


I love the little castles, rolling hills, and the minky on the back!


The princesses are so adorable; I think the blonde one below is "Princess April."


While this quilt didn't make it to the auction before finding a home, I do have some others in the works.  Also, I've seen some pretty wonderful quilt tops that Tracy and Anne have put together - oh my!  Things are coming along...

I'm planning on running the quilt auction during the first week of April 2014.  Don't forget: if you've commmitted to making a quilt, I'd love to receive it by February.  I know the holiday season is upon us, but might that mean a bit of extra time to sew?

With the tumor paralyzing her arms,
Charlotte has grown quite adept at turning pages with her feet.

We'd love your help!  Won't you help us raise funds for brain tumor research?  If you have any questions, please leave a comment or email me at charlottesgraceforacure{at}gmail{dot}com.

(Linking up with QuiltStoryMy Quilt InfatuationConfessions of a Fabric Addict, and Crazy Mom Quilts.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Fall Finish

I've been getting quite a bit of sewing done lately, but only a few things have been for the quilt auction in April.  Goodness!  I'd better buckle down and put a few things together for our generous, quilt-loving friends to bid on.

In the meantime, I've been making a few things for people who deserve them.  First up: this absolutely autumn-themed quilt.


I first spotted this pattern in Quilty Magazine and loved it.  As far as I'm concerned, you can't really go wrong with half-square triangles, squares, and plenty of Kona White.


This is probably the scrappiest quilt back that I've ever put together, and I love it!  While I don't quite recall how the quilt top came together, I distinctly remember (happy?) playroom mayhem as I quickly finished piecing the back after starting it during naptime and not finishing before my little ones awoke!


I realize that these Denyse Schmidt fabrics might be a few years old, but I've only been quilting for a year and a half, so everything is new to me!


I made this quilt for my friend, Tracy, because if anyone deserves a quilt, this lady does.  I started putting it together the day after her birthday.

I'm a star procrastinator and lousy friend like that.

Around the same time, we commemorated Charlotte being on chemo for a full year now.  This got me thinking about how this means that Tracy has selflessly invited my oldest two kids into her homeschool nearly every Wednesday for a year (so that I can focus on Charlotte when I take her to her chemotherapy treatments), and what have I done to thank her?  Answer: nothing... till now.  A few weeks later, I was still working on this quilt when Tracy told me that she was celebrating her anniversary of ten years after her ovarian cancer diagnosis.

So this quilt has a threefold purpose: Happy Birthday! and Thank You! and Congratulations!


I've been trying to be better to remember to take Charlotte's picture with the quilts before I gift them.  Usually, when she sees a quilt, she utters a super-enthusiastic, "WOW!  Pretty!"


But I guess she wasn't too impressed with this one...

(Linking up with QuiltStory, My Quilt Infatuation, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Crazy Mom Quilts.)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Our Beach (Quilt) Adventure

Last week, I resigned myself to the sad fact that we had not made it to the beach this year, and so I shared my beach quilt "finish" nonetheless.  And then - what do you know?  We made it!  And oh my - this quilt looks so much better in the sunlight and on the sand. Not to mention the accent of my handsome husband holding it up.  (Isn't he a good sport?  Look: he even dressed to match!  What more could a girl ask for?!)  


It was windy on Sunday, but we had the help of my in-laws, so we took off for our beach adventure.


It was a great day for digging in the sand...


... for contemplating life while watching waves crash onto the shore...


... and for falling in love with the beach for the very first time.


I hope your weekend was as happy as mine!

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Out to Sea" Beach Quilt

Does anyone else have intense love/hate relationships with their quilts?


I sat on my hands for so long with this fabric, not knowing what to do with it.  I thought I'd pull off something like this, but then the asymmetry was just killing me.  So I scrapped my plan and came up with the above pattern.  I loved it as I was designing it, then I hated it all while making it.  The turning point came when Anne quilted it for me, and now my love grows stronger every day. (Sigh...)


I had to work with the dimensions of these ships (above), as well as these maps (below).


Then I added borders of three- and six-inch patchwork blocks.


Anne did some great quilting for me: waves with loop-do-loops in between...


...  I added a Kona solid blue binding to match this great chevron that I got from the Fat Quarter Shop...


... and we're done!  Finally!  Charlotte is THRILLED, to say the least.  I was hoping to have a beach photo shoot for our "beach" quilt, but alas, we didn't make it there this summer.  We hope to get there next summer, but in the meantime, this quilt is fast becoming a favorite as my kids' newest picnic blanket.  Who needs a beach, anyhow?!

P.S. Measuring 66 x 84 inches, I thought this quilt would be big enough for our family of six to use at the beach.  The kids keep doing this crazy  thing called "growing," though, so now that we've test-tried the quilt, I'm not so sure it's big enough!  Fortunately, Sarah Jane is about to release her latest fabric line; I guess I'll just have to make another quilt!  Stay tuned...

(Linking up with Quilt Story, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Crazy Mom Quilts.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Skyfall: A Quilt for Chelse

This quilt is for one of Charlotte's nurses at Duke.  Chelse and I have been friends since we met during our second year of college in Fall 2000.

IMG_9839 by Charlotte's gRACE for a Cure

Well, maybe we've not been "friends" per se, for all that time.  We were in and out of touch since those fun and carefree days of college.  As with probably 60% of my friends, Chelse majored in nursing at the University of Virginia.  I, however, decided to pursue a thoroughly non-marketable degree of a double major in French Language & Literature and Religious Studies.  Yes, always a romantic; rarely level-headed or practical.

Chelse picked out the backing fabric; isn't it great?!

After graduation, we both moved to Northern Virginia and began working.  (Surprisingly enough, I did get a job... teaching unruly middle-school students.)  I remember seeing Chelse once during that first year after college.

I learned then that she had started working as a nurse on the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology floor.  I was so surprised... "Kids with cancer?!"  It seemed so very sad to me, not to mention so strange that someone might want to work in that world.

So, how terribly ironic, wouldn't you say, when I showed up with my daughter, Charlotte, to Chelse's workplace about two years ago now?  Ironic, yes; but also entirely providential.

Here is why I've made a quilt for Chelse: because where I did not previously want to face the sad fact that kids get cancer, Chelse has been tackling it head on for 10 years.  Day in and day out, nurses like Chelse come to work and care for sick kids.  Day in, day out, they come to work and they love our sick kids.  Not knowing what the future holds, they love our sick kids today.

This quilt didn't turn out quite how I wanted it to.  You can see that it is a "flying geese" pattern with a pop of aqua.  Only, if you look at it for longer than a second, you can see that I didn't really make "flying geese." I made half-square triangles, and then the only pattern that was "working" for me in the layout process was this one.  So I named it, "Skyfall" because of the pop of aqua.  It reminded me of geese taking to the sky, while the sky (the aqua portion) is falling.  (And because, come on, it's a great movie.)

This fabulous quilting was done by one of my other "God-sent" friends, Anne.  She even supplied the matching binding fabric!

As I'm writing, it's nearing midnight so maybe it's the hour that is making me all sappy, but oh! how this quilt is like my life!  How it has not "turned out" as I planned, having a child with cancer and disability. (Oh I know, who of us would ever "plan" such a thing, and whose life does turn out "just right?"  Even so...) When Charlotte was diagnosed with this brain tumor at only three-months old, the sky may as well have been falling.  I could not have cared less about the current events of the day; neither the royal wedding nor Bin Laden being killed was of any import to me.  For all I cared, my  world was crashing down around me, because my precious daughter was not expected to live for more than a few more months.

But as we move farther from the devastating time of diagnosis, I see a different kind of "Skyfall" these days.  Most people who are on the patient/family member side of this awful thing called cancer will tell you that some of the greatest people they've met, in all the world, are their doctors and nurses.  I, too, can affirm that.  So instead of insisting that "the sky is falling" as we walk through this world of suffering, I'll try to look for a different "Skyfall."  The wonderful people who care for Charlotte (and for me) are sent from heaven.  I truly believe God sends them into our lives.  Chelse is one of those sweet people.  She faces the hurts and the suffering head on; she loves and helps my daughter.  How very grateful I am that she is both a nurse to Charlotte and a friend to me.

Chelse is on the left, with me, Baby Marian, and our college "Marm," Sarah.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Christmas Quilt for Raffle

Thank you so much for following along our last two posts with the giveaways and the tutorial for Quilt Blocks.  The genesis of the Quilt Blocks is quite a lengthy story, so I'll just say that they were inspired by my artistic-genius-of-an-eldest-daughter, Elyse, and created by my friend, Tracy.  I must give credit where it is due, after all, and I forgot to mention that in my last post.

Speaking of Tracy... (and when am I not? Ha!)... she has put together this GORGEOUS Christmas quilt and is offering it as an incentive for a fundraiser we're participating in.  She used mainly the Kate Spain line, "In From the Cold," along with a few other fabulous fabrics.

Isn't it just so lovely?!

Back of the quilt

It's a generous throw size quilt.  I'm so sorry I don't have the actual dimensions, but really - plenty of room to cuddle up with a loved one (or two or three if they're of the pint-sized variety) on a chilly, winter's eve.

Here are some close-ups of some of the blocks.

Mugs of hot cocoa, mittens, and snowflakes - so much wintry fun!

Want to know the best part?  The tickets are only $5!  Can  you believe that this quilt might be yours for only $5?!

Here are the details:

Tracy's son, Elijah, has life-threatening food allergies.  (And my own son, Henry, was just recently diagnosed with a life-threatening nut allergy, as well.)  So this Saturday, Charlotte and our family is joining their team, "Elijah's Epi-Friends" at the FARE Walk in Cary, North Carolina.  We're walking for allergy research and education.

Isn't he one of the most handsome little dudes you've ever seen?!

Our team goal is $1,000 and we're not too far away.  Won't you consider even a small donation?  For every $5, you will get one raffle ticket entered in this sweet bin, and for $25 you get six tickets!  What a deal!

To find our team page and enter the raffle, click here.

*Edit: the raffle has ended (I won! in fact - can you believe it?!) but you are still welcome to donate in support of Allergy Research and Education.

Do it now before you forget.... the raffle ends this Friday night, October 11.

(Elijah, his sister, Betsy, and Charlotte play such silly games together!)

(Linking up to Quilt Story, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Crazy Mom Quilts.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gray Matters: a Tutorial with a Giveaway

The thing is, I'm an old soul.  The more smart phones and texting and all sorts of social and digital media become "the way things are," the more I try to fight for a slower way of life.  So while I know there are computerized and online quilt design programs, how fun is it to work out ideas in real time?


Oh yes.  We're turning the beloved half-square triangle - a.k.a. the "HST" and one of the most basic quilt blocks - into a wooden toy.  And I think you're going to want to play.


painter's tape (the pictured tape is 1 3/8 inches width)
acrylic paint
paint brushes and palettes


1. Ever so sweetly, ask your husband to watch the kids for the evening.  Have your best quilty friends do the same, then take over the kitchen table for painting fun and giggles.

2. Gather your supplies.

I got my blocks from Shauneil Supplies on Etsy. (Tobey is great to work with, and the wood is such nice quality!)  My pictures are showing about 25, two-inch squares ($10).  But trust me, I think you're going to want more.  Especially if you have more than one set of little hands who like to claim and hoard.

3. Grab your painter's tape and set up the blocks so that half of block is covered with tape.

Then, make like Anne and get super-ambitious by nestling some extra blocks onto the opposite side so that you're now using the full width of tape.  "Waste not, want not," they say.  :)

Fill it up really well, okay?

4. Now flip the blocks over, and...

5 Paint!



Let these dry for, I don't know, maybe an hour while you and the girls chat, then peel off the tape.  Allow the blocks to continue to dry overnight.

6. Clean up the mess. (I know... boo.)

You're going to eventually have to call it a night with the girlfriends.  But you really might want to make plans to meet up again in the morning, because when those blocks are fully dry, it's really going to be time to...

6. Play! It's time to see what types of blocks and designs you can come up with.

Anyone for a bold diamond statement?  I hear they're a girl's best friend...

What do you see here?  Maybe flying geese?

Ahh... a values diamond pattern.  I've really been wanting to make this kind of a quilt.

Everyone loves a good chevron.  What about when the colors break it up like this?

A lovely star pattern using negative space in the middle.

And now, flip those middle tiles over for a bright, yellow diamond.  I'm loving the high-contrast!

Well, those are all the fun patterns I had time to come up with before my two oldest sets of little hands plucked the Quilt Blocks from my possession, labeled the back of the blocks with their initials (fare thee well, pretty wood grain), and stashed them in the never-ending abyss that is also known as their "treasure chests."

However, I was able to put aside a set of these lovely Quilt Blocks in order to give them away to one of you, lucky folks!  How wonderful!  Really, when I was playing with these, there was something so very soothing about pushing around those smooth, painted tiles and trying to work new designs with them.

You might also want to win them for a child in your life.  They've clearly been a hit with my kiddos.

Another swell idea: Remember how we're doing this whole "Gray Matters" series because September is "Childhood Cancer Awareness" month?  Well, I was also thinking that Quilt Blocks would be a really great toy to send with a child as they spend a few hours at the hospital getting chemo.  I know: iPads are great.  But wooden toys?  They've been around for as long as kids themselves!  All I'm sayin' is: tried and true.

The Giveaway

I've set aside thirty, pretty little blocks plus this pretty little drawstring bag in which to hold them.  The rules are the same as the last giveway... get connected, okay?  You have four chances to win (leave a separate comment for each):

1. Follow Charlotte's gRACE for a Cure on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you do.

2. Follow my blog via Bloglovin', email, or RSS feed and leave a comment telling me so. (Just click on the social media buttons at the top of the page.)

3. Follow me on Pinterest and leave a comment telling me you do. (Don't want to follow all my boards? Check out "Gray Matters," "Quilt Love," and "Quilting Tutorials.")

4. Spread the love! Re-post this giveaway via your favorite social media network and tell me how you did.

That's it, folks! Giveaway is open to U.S. and international residents and ends on Monday, September 23, at 8 p.m. EST. Winner will be chosen by Random and announced at the end of this post.

(Also, Ida, if you are reading this, you are the winner of the fat quarter bundle from the previous giveaway. Send me an email at charlottesgraceforacure[at]gmail[dot]com so that I can mail out your fabric, okay?)

*Edit: Comments are closed.  Comment #16 wins - Logan Marriott!  Logan did the quilting on my mother-in-law's quilt, in case you missed it.  She does a gorgeous job!  Congrats, Logan - I'll send these blocks out later this week!