Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Here comes "Miss Emilie"...

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  Finally, in February, I can post and say that!  I have not been able to sew much until just lately, which I am very grateful for...I certainly needed the fabric therapy that these recent bursts of stitching afforded me.  But more about that in a minute...let's get to the stitching first!

These are the borders to my "Miss Emilie's Garden" quilt, pattern by Lori Smith.   There is a lot of hand applique stitching in those four borders!!  This is what they looked like after I stitched them and before I soaked them to remove my glue...

These were very difficult borders for me for some reason...mostly those darn sawtooth strips...I cut them wider than they were supposed to be, then basted the edges before I plunged them into the water to keep them stable.  I thought it better to trim them later and waste some fabric in an effort to make sure everything went together well!

I basted any glued-under edges that I didn't stitch down so that they would stay "glued-under" when the glue was soaked out...I found out later, as I was mitering, that I did not need to glue that terminal edge under...that edge was actually caught in the mitered seam...

I was really tempted to invent my own borders that were EASIER, but I was determined to do this quilt AS WRITTEN, which was hard for me...

So I held my breath and plunged the borders into the warm water baths to remove the glue.  I pre-wash my fabrics so I wasn't too worried  about shrinkage and colorfastness of the reds...I was worried about everything laying straight and not getting distorted in the process, then wondering if I was going to get all those sawtooth borders to line up when I mitered those corners...worry, worry, worry...

So far, so good...nothing ran and things seem pretty straight as I hold my breath and start to press over my towel-lined pressing surface...

I'm not sure I will do these hand appliqued, sawtooth border strips EVER again...the actual applique glue prep and stitching was fine and actually went faster than I thought possible, but I really hated having to be so darn precise while adding those borders to the body of my little quilt.  And the corner mitering...yikes!

Finally, I used my sewing machine to stay-stitch around the whole quilt, close to where it needs to be trimmed, ultimately, when I apply the binding.

I feel better about the way the OUTER sawtooth border came together at the mitered corners than the INNER matter how much I fuddled with the top right corner, I could not get it to line up...just...right...this adds character...right?

OOPS!  I forgot the final little swag doo-dads in the corners...there we go...NOW it is complete!

All this effort for a quilt that will ONLY MEASURE 42" x 42" when finished!  But I think if this had been a large quilt, those sawtooth borders would have killed me with boredom!  

Now it is time to baste and get busy with the hand quilting...

OK, here's why I have been so silent for so many weeks...

...I knew going into December, that it was going to be a hard month...we would have our first Christmas after my parents' fatal car accident of May 2014.  We chose to spend it in their home in Alabama, as we have the last few years, and my 3 sisters and their young families were there with us.  We will be moving this summer to live in their home and be welcoming care-takers to the property so that all family can visit often (I have six brothers and sisters).

But before all that happened, Steve's Dad fell and broke a hip in early December.  He had surgery, and we were all taking shifts of being in Philadelphia to cheer him on and take care of Steve's Mom, who suffers from dementia and can't be by herself.  So my daughter had a month and more of only having one parent around, which added to her stress level during her senior year of high school.    

We were able to be together in Alabama with some of my family for Christmas only because Steve's brother wasn't with his family in Maine, as he took a care-taking shift (thanks Dave!).

We are still sorting out and trying to manage the situation in Philadelphia.  Care-givers have been hired to try to keep them together in their home of 50 years, where they are happiest.  Due to Mom's dementia, we don't think they could be together if they were in a nursing home situation.

Dad is continuing to get stronger with the help of PT, OT, home nursing, and care-givers.  Mom has started having her own issues, but we are limping along, always knowing that at any time one of us will have to jump and run to be in town with them.

Of course, during all this my daughter is in the middle of trying to choose a college, finish a very busy senior year, and deal with on-site auditions for musical theater, French horn, and writing as she tries to settle on a major.  (Oh, and then she had her first car accident one snowy morning a couple of weeks ago when Steve was in Philadelphia...nobody hurt, thankfully...).

So, needless to say, I am a complete mess.  I have had atopic dermatitis all my life, which flares up in times of great stress and leaves me covered with oozing, very itchy, ugly hives from head to toe.  I had handled the stress of last year pretty well, but all that ended in early January when my stress level went through the roof.  
So I am on high-powered steroids at the moment in order to get control of my skin...and life... back.

I keep saying "this will pass, this will pass," and I know that many of you are have dealt with, or are dealing with much worse scenarios, but I have definitely struck bottom here lately.  And I have had no time to sew, which might have saved me from having a major breakout of my skin condition.

I know the stress is going to continue...graduation, getting our house ready to sell in Michigan, saying good-bye to our life and friends here, relocating to NW Alabama, having to give up my dear kitty when we move, the continued decline and change in my in-laws' lives, and becoming empty-nesters.  

I'm still not sure how all this will happen, but I know it will happen and some day I will wake up on the other side of it and discover that I have time to design and enjoy quilting again.

So hang in there with me...I am committed to blogging whenever I can, I have entered my music quilt in AQS Lancaster and AQS Paducah, and I continue to send out music patterns to people who order them.  I have started dreaming about quilt design again, and I have started wrapping my head around the monumental task of moving the quilt cave and having it recreate itself in a new, exciting form in Alabama.

Thank you to everyone who has emailed me to check on me...I am so behind on answering emails.  I love you all and appreciate your support.

Still In Stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. wow, a full plate indeed! your quilt is astoundingly beautiful...all that border angst can now be put is beautiful indeed. take time for yourself to catch a'll keep you going....and give you strength....

  2. Gorgeous, gorgeous quilt!! I am so sorry for your tough year last year, and I am praying for healing of body and soul for you and your family.

  3. Oh, girl, I'm so sorry to hear about all the troubles. Been wondering how you were doing.

    My friend, Sally, whom you met at Chattanooga recently finished a quilt with those same sawtooth borders. She hated it too, but both of you did a fine job anyway. The quilt is beautiful.

    Now, why do you have to give up Mr. Weasley when you move????? That makes me sad, sad, sad.

  4. Your recent quilt is beautiful. You and your husband (and his family) are remarkable to make such an effort to keep your in-laws in their home as long as possible. It is a burden but their quality of life benefits so much from your sacrifice. Hang in there! I hope your daughter picks a school that is a perfect fit for her.

  5. It is just gorgeous and I hope the handquilting gives you some comfort and piece of mind as you struggle thru this time.

  6. Welcome back and your applique is, as always, beautiful! You've had a rough year. Here's hoping for a smooth 2015 with lots of quilting and designing. Chin up!

  7. Oh Teresa... what a time you have had. So sorry to hear of all that stress your family has been dealing with. I guess your skin is telling you to quilt more :)
    You did an amazing job of those borders, and I was wondering how the corners would join up... it looked very complicated. Now for some relaxing hand quilting....

  8. Hang in there. Stress isn't a fun thing. Chris

  9. I'm so sorry to hear about all of your stress! Wow that is a lot to deal with. You will wake up one day on the other side of it all - it's good perspective to be thinking that. Your dogtooth borders look fabulous!! What a gorgeous quilt! Those swag doo dads are the icing on the cake for your mitered borders. I can't wait to see the magic you work on this beautiful top with your handquilting stitches :0)
    My daughter suffers from chronic hives as well - I've been wondering if it might be stress related. Maybe she needs some relaxation therapy. I hope your flare up goes away pronto!

  10. The quilt is just beautiful and the sawtooth borders exquisite. I am so sorry about your health issues and all the stress. It is just a very difficult time for you and it sounds like you are doing your very best which is all you and everyone else should expect. I hope 2015 gets to be a better year for you very soon. 15 minutes a day quilting might help. maybe you can push it up on the list a bit.

    best wishes, Mary

  11. Wow. When I got to the "it's only 42 inches" I had to go back and look again. So much detail!

    Becoming an empty nester is hard. I thought it was supposed to be fun. I miss my girls so much. I only see them a few times a year now instead of everyday:( As for my parents....well...they are getting to that point where they will need care soon. Life is a ride isn't it.

  12. I have empathy for you with your circumstances (I too am the 'primary' for an elderly father - but he's not yet requiring 24/7/365 watching over - though it may reach that point), so I will add some prayers for you to our Almighty Father who knows all that we go through. I'm sorry you cannot take your kitty, but hope kitty finds a nice home. Your quilt is lovely! and you're way beyond my desires - I would never attempt all that applique no matter how it's added.

  13. Oh, Teresa. I'm sorry to hear you have been having such a difficult time lately. I'll be praying that life will be a lot better for you in 2015. Your quilt in progress is beautiful and I know will be good therapy for you in the quilting. How wonderful to leave the cold of Michigan for the warmth of Alabama. Good luck on the move. Enjoy these last months of full-time motherhood. They grow so fast. Now you get to see the woman evolve from the baby/girl/teen you nurtured and raised. Relish every moment!

  14. Oh my goodness moving to your late parents house in Alabama - what a change for you - but if I remember the photos you showed it was a wonderful house and property - you should love it there and carry on your parents dream of the land preserve was it? The holidays are hard when it is the first one after our parents die - it was for me too. The quilt is lovely and only 40 some inches, i thought it was bigger those pieces are little then for all those blocks.

  15. Oh my. You have had a lot to deal with. Stress overload.

    You did a beautiful job of creating the borders. They look oh so pretty and are the crowning touch for the quilt.

  16. What wonderful work you have done! I will pray for you and your family to get through these stressful times. I have rashes that pop up on my face when stressed I cannot imagine it all over. I feel for you.

  17. Oh I am so sorry to hear about your break out. Every Christmas my skin just flares and flares. I have just come off steroids so can really empathise with you. It's hard not to scream "It's just not fair". Every day I dream of "normal skin" but after 43 years I think it is just a dream. Must be the creative temperament I reckon, but aren't we fortunate to have that in us. Stitch and stitch your heart out, sink into it and let your mind go still. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work. Sending a hug from "down under"

  18. Glad you were able to get some stitching in. Your work is very nice. Sorry to hear of all the sad things that have occurred in the past year. I live in Georgia, so welcome back to the South, whenever it occurs.

  19. You have really had your plate full. I feel for you. I'm still sitting here with my mouth hanging open at your applique. It is really lovely. I know I would never do it, but I surely do like seeing you at it! Best wishes for all the challenges ahead of you. You can do it. One day at a time.

  20. What beautiful work. I am glad you had a chance to do what you love. I am so sorry that you are having so many painful things happening. Know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  21. Your quilt is so beautiful, so precise, so gorgeous, so small, and so detailed! You are so talented, Teresa. I am so sorry to hear of all these afflictions and huge life transitions going on at once. As they say on airplanes, take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. You will miss your daughter, but there are so many ways to keep in touch these days, and you will delight in the young woman she becomes. Take care. You have a lot of supporters rooting for you.

  22. Wow - thoughts and prayers for you and yours. Here's hoping that 2015 is a joyful year for you.

    The quilt top is gorgeous. I simply MUST buy that pattern!

  23. First of all your border is gorgeous! Bravo to you for sticking with it. Just keeping putting your foot forward and before you know it things will settle down. Take care of yourself and I hope you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  24. I'm not sure how long I have been been reading your blog but not long enough to know of your troubles. I am now praying for you and your family.

    Wow, you blew me away with this beautiful quilt. I can only guess the hours of labor that went into this masterpiece. Good luck in Lancaster and Paducah.

  25. Yeah, got to read a post from you!! I thought about you & yours over Christmas. This was my first Christmas without my parents too. I was just pretty numb, but we made it through, best as we could. I am glad to see you will be with your family when you move. Poor Mr Weasley. May he find a loving home. I love how your borders came out for the quilt top. That is just beautiful & you did an awesome job on the whole top. Hope you get more stitching time in the very near future.

  26. Wow! Your quilt turned out wonderful! Amazing.

  27. Your year has certainly been cellar (not a typo)...praying that this year will be a fast climb out of there with smooth sailing on the move, your in-laws and the high school graduation/college choosing and that your skin will clear up quickly. You did a fabulous job on the quilt - those small white spaces on the inner sawtooth border look intention since they are all the same. I certainly would not have thought the pattern called for anything but that!! Prayers for you and your family.

  28. Your quilt is beautiful. I'm sorry to hear of all that you and your family are going through. I'm not sure how you are finding any time to relax and hand stitch, but that would be the best thing to relieve your stressful life. Sorry about your family issues and wonder why you cannot take your kitty with you.

  29. Oh my goodness Teresa, I'm sending big hugs your way, sounds like you could really use them.

  30. Here's my hug... all the way from Maine.

  31. Really love your quilt - it's just so perfect! Sorry that you have so much stress and so many things going on in your life. It has to settle down eventually! Hopefully you will be able to fit a little stitching in - you need FABRIC THERAPY! :)

    1. Blogland was so lonely without you and your creativity! I missed your awesome posts. Welcome back...hugs and more hugs!!

  32. Teresa, remember that those of us who love your work and follow you won't go anywhere. Have you looked into assisted living for your in-laws? They may be allowed to stay together that way. Eventually, your MIL is going to need more care than she can get at home.
    I sympathize with your moving woes. I've always said I'd have to burn my house down because I so much stuff. If your cat gives you solace, why not take her with you?
    I'm going to the Lancaster show! I'll get to see your quilt in person! How cool is that?
    Take care of yourself; otherwise, you won't be able to take care of anyone else.

  33. First, your quilt is A-MAZ-ING! That border really trumps it all! Way to hang in there and keep going.
    Get some portable hand work and have it handy in times of stress. I'm so sorry for all you are/have and will go through. Take it a day at a time. xoxo

  34. Hi Teresa, I'm so sorry for all that is happening in your life. It just gets to be too much sometimes. It's difficult the first year after your parents die. At the end of the first year after my mom died I was so relieved. I had finally gone through everything once. The holidays had been so difficult, my kids little progresses and changes. It will all come together, but in its own time. My heart goes out to you in dealing with layer upon layer of the underside of life.

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  36. first, your quilt is amazing.
    second, re the corner red miters. have you though about appliqueing a red triangle across the corner miters (one piece) to cover the miter joins? then cut away the mitered joins from underneath? (if you haven't started quilting that area yet...)
    beautiful work!

  37. As always, your quilt is spectacular. I wish for you some peace and happiness. I know how stressful moving is, been there, done that. We moved twice in 5 months after having lived in our home for 23 years. That was almost 2 years ago and there are still boxes we have yet to unpack or sort through.

    Caring for elderly parents is definitely not easy and is certainly stressful. You do need to find time for yourself, even if it's only 15 minutes a day. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

    Why can't you take Weasley with you? I can't imagine having to give up my fur baby due to a move.

  38. Love your new quilt. So sorry to hear about all your issues and my heart is breaking about your kitty.

  39. And with all of this stuff going on in your life, you have managed to finish this fabulous quilt top!! Prayers are going your way for you and ALL of your family!!!!


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