Quilt Retreat

When I left you last, I was on my way to a quilt retreat in Logan, Utah. It was to be my first -ever- and I was looking forward to it with such enthusiasm! The few acquaintances I’ve met in my new small town were well aware of my upcoming trip as I talked about it all the time.

Mark was in town and the goal was to take the boys and daddy to his mother’s house, Grandma Donna, and drop them off. From there, Jen and I would head on to Logan and check into our over abundant hotel/guesthouse for a night. In taking the babies to their grandma, I got to keep my promise that Grandma wouldn’t miss out on the boys because I moved 2 hours farther away from where she lived. The original plan, before we realized Mark would be in town, was to have the boys visit grandma by themselves. Since Mark was in town, he got to see his mom, as well. I’m quite sure, because of his stoic nature, his mom was more enthused about that visit than he was.


On the way down, I convinced Mark to stop at Clark Canyon Reservoir and walk the boys on the ice lake. They’ve never had opportunity to actually walk on a lake iced over so it was perfect. With dad there, I had opportunity to not stress the falling through the ice as bad. He tested it and we went where he thought was safe. Honestly, the entire section of lake might be safe but I felt much better knowing he was testing where my boys were going to walk and play.


“It’s cold, Mom!” They were trying to break ice chunks that had been pushed up onto the shoreline area during a thaw/refreeze. They soon realized that it was really too cold for this idea.


“Do you really have to take my picture?” Why yes, yes I do.


Trying to push Brendan on a block of ice. It was fun watching them try. With Caiden, a bit older and wiser, it was a lot easier.


Look at that smile! With everything else going on right now, just seeing that smile makes my mother’s heart break and my eyes water.


Brendan had my camera so you get to see a picture of me!


Beautiful. Stunning. Gorgeous. So amazing. And no, I’m not talking about the mountains. My boys are amazing. It’s a shame all the bad they are going through right now.


Caiden is trying to clear the snow off the ice so he can look at it.


Brendan dropped down and started making snow angels in the layer of snow on top of the ice. Caiden followed suit and it was such fun to watch them play and be little boys for a bit.


Brendan put feet sticking out of the bottom of his angel. That was an interesting concept. How many of us have made snow angels and not put feet sticking out of her dress?


Of course, right back to trying to smash the 3-4″ thick ice. And with that, we got back in the car to head down to SLC.

On the way to SLC, a freak accident with my phone sliding off the dash and hitting the metal hardware of the passenger seat in the car smashed the screen. Instead of arriving at Grandma Donna’s and heading off to our hotel with hours of extra day left, we were stuck at a Verizon in SLC trying to get me a phone replacement. Eventually, we did and we set out to our respective places for the weekend.

Jen and I didn’t arrive to our hotel/suites until well after dark.


The place Jen and I stayed was not over-priced and it was as beautiful as advertised. I am really looking forward to packing up my sewing supplies and heading down to the same spot for an entire weekend of sewing. Looking at the pictures, I’m sure you would agree that it is a perfect getaway for a sewing retreat all by itself; no need to head to a quilt shop for it!


The other side of the living room/front room. I could work there for hours and hours!


A full kitchen – and I do mean full. It even had cooking utensils, pots, pans, dishes, cups and coffee!


French doors off the kitchen leading to the bedroom.


Two queen-sized beds.


Store-bought quilts on the beds but that’s alright. They are inspiration because they are beautiful.


Antique-look furniture in the bedroom. Plenty of space to get settled and comfortable for a weekend (or longer!).


Jacuzzi tub bathroom (with separate shower) for when you’re hurting from sitting and working on quilt tops for too long. I did try it out – and it was amazing!

Can you really beat such luxury for $110 a night? I am looking forward on how to convince Mark to take me down on a weekend getaway with my sewing machine. Maybe the boys (with Jen?) can visit Grandma Donna and he can feed me while I spend the weekend in luxury, sewing until my fingers bleed? We’ll see.

On Saturday morning, I woke to such pains in my belly. Since the birth of Caiden, I’ve been plagued with kidney stones and the morning on the quilt retreat, a really doozy showed up. I was sweating buckets but freezing at the same time, it hurt to stand and would make me dizzy enough to fall over (or bump into things) and it was all I could do to just lay in bed and moan, texting Mark about my imminent demise due to kidney stone pain. If you’ve never had a kidney stone, let me just say: it’s damn near worse than childbirth. I’ve experienced both (with cesarean twice but same difference) and it’s just as bad as that, if not more so.

Mark asked if I wanted to go to the VA hospital. I told him it was a waste of time. They’d give me some really awesome pain meds but then make me wait to see if I could pass it on my own. In the process, I’d miss my first-ever-so-excited-to-go quilt retreat.

It was to start at 8 a.m. and by 8:10 a.m., I decided that I was going. I didn’t care! I wasn’t going to miss it. We got dressed (my hair a mess from the bath the night before but I didn’t care) and head off. I took some Advil and survived the day. With each passing hour, things calmed down until, by the end of the day, the worst of it was gone.


On arrival, we were given our cutting instructions. Everyone local (not living three states away) was given cutting instructions earlier and were already done with the cutting. Jen and I spent over an hour working on cutting everything we needed to get our day started. I love their cutting tables, by the way! They are antique-looking furniture with a huge space for cutting mats. Beautiful! I didn’t get a picture; I’m sorry. You can see part of it in the above picture, though.


A little army of pieces cut and ready to be sewn. I didn’t get a lot of pictures because I didn’t want to offend anyone by putting their picture up on my blog; however, I’ll show you the rest of the pictures I’ve got.

Did I tell you the story about trying to figure out how to get my sewing machine down to the quilt retreat? No? Well, then…


I have a beauty of a machine. I know it’s not a Janome or a Baby Lock but it’s mine. It cost me a lot and it does what I want it to do. When I finally have enough patience to figure out the embroidery party (with out all the goofs), it’ll be an awesome day. Mark took us to Idaho Falls the weekend before the quilt retreat so I could find a way to transport my machine to the quilt retreat. We went to Jo Ann’s (where they sell the Futura) and the lady swore to me that my machine would fit in the bag she sold me for half off the original price of $89.99. When we got home, it would not fit. It was so small!

On Sunday, we took a family trip to Butte to look at perhaps getting a smaller sewing machine. I love my Singer so I figured I’d just buy a smaller one for the retreat weekend and be happy.

No dice. The smaller, newer one annoyed me. It didn’t have half the buttons I’m used to. Switches and other buttons were in the wrong spot. It was a disaster. On Wednesday, Mark and I went to Butte and returned the machine. I was never going to use it so we had to find a different idea. I didn’t get a picture but we wandered the mall in Butte and found a suitcase big enough to fit my machine and all the extras I could possibly consider taking with me. It’s awesome! I might remember to get a picture for y’all later.

During the quilt retreat, I looked around and noticed, several women were carrying their machines by the handles – no cases to put them in. Maybe I could have just carried my machine, like I did down to Oklahoma to sew with my mom. O’well. They also gave me other ideas of supplies and such that I could get to travel with me to make my life easier, as well!


It was a mystery quilt so, halfway through the day, we had a ton of little pieces sewn together and still no idea on what it would look like when done. I was doing pretty good, moving right along and caught up to the other ladies. In fact, I was being teased towards the end of the day. I was being called the, “Netflix Lady.” I was listening to a documentary on my little Motorola XYBoard (a tablet) and sewing up a storm. I actually got ahead of the other ladies because I just kept going and going and going. I don’t believe the speed at which I finished the pieces is what caused the problem you’ll hear about later but it could have been. I’m not sure.


Jen was sewing away. She did really good for her first attempt at a queen-sized quilt and under pressure. She’s sewn two things together up till this point – blocks for a quilt for me and then her own set of blocks to make a throw quilt. She was the baby of the class and the teacher’s pet (despite her continual peeking and cheating). The teacher helped her, gave her hints and tips and generally kept her going in the right direction.


The first of two mystery blocks complete. When done, there would be 18 of these little guys and 18 of the other block we were creating. This was step 15 of 16 and the end of the night – it was to end at 8 p.m. and we were there until 1045 p.m. I didn’t realize it until later but I was bone tired and my hands would swell overnight from all the work.

I’m at 1868 words – it’s time to sign off here and finish later. Too long on a post and people get bored and quilt reading.


Categories: Quilting, Trips | Leave a comment

Hired! Kinda…

In our new town, there’s a quilt store. Obviously I wouldn’t move anywhere that didn’t have one. I’ve started frequenting there, not always to buy something (lack of funds), but more of to introduce myself and start meeting other quilters and branching out. Making friends and having fun when the boys are in school is my goal.

Recently, I’ve taken to quilting a lot. So much, in fact, that I have an entire tote’s worth of quilts to take to the quilter on my next trip to Idaho Falls. I still have a few to pick up from him and not quite sure where the money is going to come from but I can’t stop myself. I have so many ideas in my head and I just want to get them done. Anyone who is an artist of sorts understands, I’m sure.

I’ve already posted some pictures of the quilts I’m working on and I may post them again as I get caught up on this post in my blog. I’m just excited to share!


My friend Liz has been whining and making noise about me making her a second quilt. Monday, January 20th, I pulled out a set of fabric I’ve had since my store closed and set it out. It requires over a hundred small 5″ squares sewn together into a pattern. The style that they introduced for speed-making these half-square triangles was interesting and opened new doors for me.


It starts with sewing two 4.5″ strips right-sides together.


You stitch on both long sides.


Using a Quilter’s triangle, you cut at the 5″ line.


Iron it open and, after trimming, you have a 5″ half square triangle.


Very shortly, you have hundreds of little half square triangles to trim and then sew together. This quilt is still “in progress” so I can’t show you the results, just yet.


Trimming them down to 5″ square by hand was getting frustrating, so I head on down to the local quilt store to see if she had a 5″ square template/ruler I could use.


I head on down and the owner told me that she did not have that size template ruler for me. On a side note, the owner has a bag full of Downtown Abbey fat quarters that I’ve been staring at since just before Christmas and, at one point, I offered to trade a full set of about 100 patterns I had left over from my store for this bag of fabric. It is so beautiful and the bag is just darling.


During this visit, she declined that offer but, since she’s seen most of my work, asked me if I would make a few sample quilts to hang in her store in exchange for the bag of fabric I want. She had a specific pattern and book in mind that she is trying to sell and that’s what I’d use for her sample lap quilts.


That would be the pattern she wanted me to make from the book and fabric she is trying to sell. I immediately agreed. I was beside myself! Someone actually wanted me to make something for them to show off in a quilt store! What better way to boost someone’s ego on quilt-making!?


She told me not to worry and to take my time. She didn’t understand how dedicated I was, from the moment she asked me. Not for the bag of fabrics I’d been admiring so much as the fact someone asked!


Three and a half hours later, I was done. Jen and the boys tried to help me get a decent picture of it but it was difficult in the wind.


Laying it on the floor introduced a picture full of wrinkles.

I took it down to the shop and handed it to her. She was amazed I had finished so fast. I could only try to explain the great gift she had given me by asking me to make something to show off in her store. She asked if I wanted to make a second one, from the same Downtown Abbey line, only the purples this time. She was going to be gone until Wednesday morning (this was on Monday afternoon), so there was no hurry.


I agreed and set about taking the fabric home. She said when I was done with this one, the Downtown Abbey fat quarters (and bag) would be mine.


This all happened on Monday. On Tuesday, the boys were back in school and I set about laying out the second quilt top. I cut all the pieces and had it all ready to go.


However, I did no sewing. I got sucked into a Netflix show I was watching and did not a thing all day. No sewing at all. It sat there all day, although the table did go back into the dining room before the boys got home from school.


On Wednesday morning, knowing she’d be waiting for the quilt at the store, I set about putting the pieces together. I started at 8 a.m. and was done by 10:30 a.m. I love this one so bad, I want to buy this or the other from the store owner when she is done showing it as a sample of the fabrics!


Aren’t those colors stunning?!

I took the quilt top in to the quilt store owner and handed it to her. She was happy and that made me happy. She said she’d give me a call when she gets some more ideas of things needing samples in the store. I am more than ready for another challenge!


With the scraps and left over pieces, I started making some other things with these fabrics. The triangles you see above are the waste cut from the pieces of the two tops. I set about just seeing what I could do with them, paying no attention to proper size but rather trimming as needed and as I went.


I trimmed this down and kept going…


I sewed a back on this, as is, and use it for my new cutting mat that is able to spin as you cut things. I neglected to get a picture of that so I’ll try to get it up next time.


I created a second cover for this mat you see – it also spins as you cut. This one is 7″ – the bigger one is 12″. I am already in love with them and can’t believe I didn’t buy them a long time ago. I neglected to get a picture of the second one I created. I’ll get that up at some point.


When I still had scraps left, I decided to start trying to piece together a lap quilt from the scraps left over. These are all created from waste scraps after cutting the ends of triangles.


This was a good start but how to make it bigger – a lap quilt of some size? I went through the scraps and kept sewing and cutting. There was no pattern. Just sewing what I had together.


This is what it looks like right now.  I’m going to add more to it with other scraps from the same line; however, I took it to the same quilt store owner here in town and she’s using it as a sample for others to get ideas from. I told her that it was created entirely from the scraps of fabric she gave me to make those two lap quilts.


Did I mention I love this small cutting board that spins for trimming smaller squares? You’ve got to get one, if you don’t have one already. Things go so fast and easy!

When I took the small quilt top to the store and gave it to the lady to show off in the store, I repeatedly mentioned that it was scraps. Things she could tell others when selling the fabric. Mark made mention that it might not have been a good idea to tell the owner all about how much I made for myself from the scraps of free fabric she gave me.

I am not sure I understand – I made what she asked to the specifications the book stated. There was left overs when done. Is it so wrong to make things for myself from what’s left? Most of it was what was cut off as half square triangles and such were made!

I started thinking about it and, with a set of fabric I bought from the owner with the intent of making another sample for her, decided to just give it to her to keep in her store. The blue lap quilt I was creating from scraps I really wanted to keep but this new set for another line she was trying to sell – she could keep that. I’d be ok with that, since everything I do can help her store stay open.

Want to see what I created from 1 yard each of four fabrics? This is entirely a pattern building in my head as I was sewing – I had nothing written down and was “winging it” from that one yard of each I had purchased.


It started with trying to square off the blocks with printing on them. For some reason, those blocks are never square – they come off the bolt tilted and uneven. I sewed borders to them and trimmed them to 13″ to square them off. After doing that five times, I wanted to find a way to lay them out. The four half square triangles were my next idea – as a way of framing the pictures. When done with that, I had to decide how to put sashing in. Normal sashing seemed so boring, I got an idea to do a 2″ of the red, 1″ of the yellow/green and then another 2″ of the red.


I sewed the rows with their sashing pieces and set it on my design board. I wasn’t sure I wanted the same lines to go across and cut off the yellow/green lines going up and down. I eye-balled the size I needed and cut the 5″ squares for the inside corners and pieced them in. Because it was so random as I was going, they are not perfectly lined up but they are really close.


For the border, my idea was the put the yellow/green so it didn’t “cut it off” and then finish with the red. Before I did the borders, I went in to the quilt shop and told the owner that it was hers and I felt bad for making so many cool things for myself from fabric I hadn’t paid for. She hugged me. Jen got a laugh out of that – not many people actually get the nerve to hug me. I told her that she can tell people it was one yard of each fabric. I got a little extra for the borders but I didn’t need but a titch of it. If I hadn’t messed up on one part and had to recreate it, I wouldn’t have even needed that titch.


I finished the borders last night on this 3 hour lap quilt and will give it to the owner tomorrow morning (Wednesday). For now, I need to get back to finishing Liz’s quilt. I don’t feel like it, though. She still has never shown me she used the first one I made her. Harumph! (LOL)

For now, I have a job (not paying, of course). I make quilts to show off in the local quilt store and help the owner sell the fabrics. Not a bad deal, if you ask me! I’ll post pictures of the quilt store (with my items, of course) as soon as I can. This weekend, I’m going to an all day quilt retreat. It’s a class/retreat from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jen’s going and I know there will be lots of pictures!


Categories: Local Business Review, Photography, Quilting, Socializing, Trips | Leave a comment

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