Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day

As I sit here on Sunday evening I thought it might be nice to pay tribute to our armed forces on this Memorial Day weekend. Although my family was not a military one growing up, we lived in the Washington DC area and many of my friends growing up had parents that were in the military. Those families would come and go as the dad got stationed in our area and then again somewhere else 3 or 4 years later. One of my closest friends growing up had a dad that was in the Air Force and he was MIA during the Vietnam war. Her mom raised her and her little brother as a single parent and I really didn't understand why she didn't have a dad until I got to high school. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be safe and secure at home. I remember years later running into someone that had a metal MIA bracelet with his name on it. Small world. I know what they all wished for when they prayed at night was that their Dad would come home again. I also know a family here in Nj that lost their oldest son in Afghanistan in July 2012. It was very difficult for them and still is to think he was killed doing his job. I know they are proud of him, but I can only bet that they would give anything to have just one more day with him and to tell him they love him and how proud they are of the man he proved to be as a soldier. I know there are many veterans that came home from their overseas positions and found it difficult to get into the civilian life after serving in the military. I am disappointed in how little we do for them when they get out. We should do more. I personally make sure that my company does at least 1 charitable event every year for our active military? We want them to know that we know they are there, we are glad and grateful they are serving overseas for us and that we appreciate the hardships they face every day so that we can live in the Land of the Free. I always thank active duty personnel when I encounter them at the airport, shake their hand and tell them how much seeing them in uniform makes me proud to be an American. Memorial Day isn't about picnics, shopping for bargain sales or having the day off. Our military never take the day off. Fly your flag, pray for their safe return and be thankful to those that wear uniforms, face combat, train regularly and leave the comforts of their homes and the loving sums of their families so that we can LIVE FREE and enjoy the USA. Hire a vet if you can. Go visit them or the place where they came to rest if they are no longer with us.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sharing the Love for Quilting with Others

Last Friday evening I had the opportunity to 'teach' a workshop at a local girl scout troop meeting.  There were 12 girls signed up and I had spent all day Saturday cutting out 12 kits to make a little Mother's Day Bouquet Wallhanging.  It had to be colorful, easy, and pretty enough to keep the girls busy for a couple of hours.

I am lucky to have a wonderful colleague named Joyce that volunteered to help me on Friday to get the girls sewing.  I am so glad that she did!  I couldn't have done it without her.

It turned out that only 8 girls showed up.   We had 4 sewing machines, 1 iron and 3 moms that didn't sew to help.  With all of the pre-cut kits in zipper lock baggies, we started by showing them what they were going to make that evening before we dove into the creation process.  See below.

We laid the different pieces out on the table and allowed them to select the flowers, stems, leaves, flower pot, background, backing and borders from what I had cut out already.  They really enjoyed that part, looking carefully at each one to determine if they liked each piece and wanted to use it.

 In hindsight, I should have had them add the borders to their background first, before putting all the smaller fused pieces out so they didn't end up on the floor.  Then we taught each girl how to machine piece the seams to add the borders to their quilt tops.  We did the sides first, got them pressed and then added the top and bottom borders.  None of the girls had ever sewn before and it was fun teaching them how to run a machine and keep the pieces straight.  My old 'MOLEFOAM' trick helped them to line up the pieces nicely with a little help from the adults.

Once the tops were pieced and pressed, we then took the pre-fused flowers, stems, leaves and flower pots and laid out each quilt.  Each girl was allowed and expected to decide what her flower bouquet would look like.  Once they had it laid out to their liking, they then peeled the paper backing off the pieces and pressed them down on the top to finish the 'applique'.  Fusible applique is a great starter project for girls in the 6-8 year old range.  They can pick up the pieces and move them around until they are ironed down to the top.  One by one they took their tops over to the ironing station where the flowers were pressed into place.  We then took the quilt tops and sandwiched them 'pillow case' style with batting and backing.

We were running a bit short on time, so the adults cut, pinned and sewed the quilts to get them finished.  Joyce pinned, I sewed, another mom unpinned, trimmed and turned the quilts right side out, Janet ironed and then I closed the hole and finally Amy took their pictures with their finished quilts before they left the meeting.

It was fun, it was creative and I believe the girl scouts had a great time making something beautiful that they could take home.  I suspect we even have a few future sewers and maybe a quilter or two in the group.   The troop leaders have already asked if we would have a mommy how to sewing class sometime over the summer. 

Note: If you look at the pictures closely, you will notice as I did after the fact that most of the girls selected border fabrics that matched the tops they were wearing, green, pink, stripes, flowers, etc.  That was really cool!