Don’t Be Afraid of Down Syndrome

IMG_20151229_093235So when you first give birth to a baby with Down syndrome, and it’s a shock because you didn’t know about his spare chromosome ahead of time, all sorts of crazy thoughts and fears go through your head. All you can think of are the things he won’t be able to do.

But over the years, he’ll show you that there are all kinds of things he CAN do, including trying out Dad’s new snowblower for the first time and doing a great job with it. In fact, he will regularly impress you as long as you give him opportunities to do so from the time he is tiny.

If I’d known at his birth what I know now, his diagnosis of Down syndrome wouldn’t have been nearly so scary!

Star Wars Quilt

IMG_20151223_124554_hdrThere are a couple of Star Wars fans in our family, and they happen to be married to each other, so it wasn’t hard to come up with the idea of a Star Wars quilt as their Christmas gift.

The pattern was one I first saw in McCall’s Quilting magazine. The fabric was made by Camelot Fabrics which I bought from the Missouri Star Quilt Co. As you can see, most of the quilt was done in a meandering stitch:

IMG_20151223_124648_hdrHowever, I didn’t want to stitch over the faces of the characters, which featured in a couple of the fabrics:

IMG_20151223_124630_hdrSo I looped around the faces instead, creating the squares you see on the back:

IMG_20151223_124715_hdrAs with my previous quilt, I used Aurifil thread for all the piecing and quilting, and the backing is made of premium 108″ muslin from JoAnn Fabrics, probably the nicest cloth they sell there these days. The batting is also from JoAnn; it’s Pellon’s Nature’s Touch 100% cotton batting. I free-motion quilted it using my supermachine, the Brother PQ-1500S.

1930s Reproduction Fabric Quilt

IMG_20151223_123358_hdrI found this pattern online (and it was free!) and adjusted it so that I could use Jenny Doan’s method for making half-square triangles. What fun! It went together quickly and easily because the blocks were trimmed down to the same size before piecing.

This quilt is a double-sized quilt, probably the largest quilt I have handled or could ever handle on my supermachine. It required a lot of rolling and re-rolling to position it correctly. To keep things simple, I stitched rows of arcs along the squares and triangles:

IMG_20151223_123414_hdrNote that they are not perfect! Unlike the Amish, I don’t need to add a flaw to my quilt; I do it automatically and regularly. But I have learned that when it comes to quilts, finished is better than perfect.

I love the pattern the arcs make on the back:

IMG_20151223_123446_hdrNote the border, where I quilted in a loose meandering design with random loops. Very simple, but fast, which is good because speed was of the essence given my deadline.

I used Aurifil thread for all the piecing and quilting (I’ve really become addicted to that stuff!). The backing is made of premium 108″ muslin from JoAnn Fabrics, probably the nicest cloth they sell there these days. The batting is also from JoAnn; it’s Pellon’s Nature’s Touch 100% cotton batting. I’ve been using it a lot lately after reading good reviews of it in several places online.

I did have a panicked moment (ok, a panicked few hours) while making this quilt under deadline with another quilt waiting. When I switched presser feet so that I could put the binding on this quilt, the screw that holds the presser foot on broke in half, while I was screwing it on by hand! I couldn’t believe it. My husband went to our local Ace Hardware and found some similar screws, but none worked. I called several Wisconsin Brother dealers but none had the screw. I was freaking out.

DH came to the rescue. He found a dealer in Illinois that I called, and they said they thought it was likely they had the screw. So we rushed down there before they closed for the day, and sure enough, they had it. What a relief! I bought four so I’d have backups in the future. That was my husband’s idea, BTW. Guess he didn’t want to see me freak out again  :)



Happy 2016!

I spent much of the last part of 2015 working on two quilts that were Christmas gifts (photos to come). I managed to finish them in time but I must have been crazy to put myself under such a deadline. There were several interruptions, including emergency surgery on one of my kids (she’s OK now, thank God), the purchase of a car and a broken part on my sewing machine.

The Christmas season was full of surprises, the best of them being the announcement by our daughter and son-in-law that they’re expecting their first child this summer. We are very excited about this wonderful news! This will be our third grandchild; we were blessed to spend some time over the holidays with our first two bright and gorgeous grandchildren, and they are a delight :) We Skype with them every week and love it, but there’s nothing like being there in person.

The holidays gave me an opportunity to reconnect with some old friends, which is always nice. Some were also homeschooling parents, so we have much to talk about. I continue to find it interesting that some of their kids are doing very well as adults while others continue to find their way. I mean this in terms of their faith lives, not their work or personal lives, as all seem gainfully employed and/or busy raising their own children. These things are also true of my own children. It appears to me that homeschooling creates wonderful family lives and good educational experiences, but cannot create an adult who handles everything perfectly, no matter what the speakers at homeschool conventions may tell you! That said, it’s a privilege to watch our adult children navigate the world with all of its joys and challenges.

In 2016, I hope to update Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers with additional projects and information. We also have a couple of eBooks in the pipeline at Cardamom that will hopefully be published this year. And of course, there will be more quilts….and a new baby to love!

Wishing you a blessed 2016,

Baby Quilt

Our neighbors were recently blessed with a gorgeous baby boy, and the good news sent me to my sewing machine. I used fabric from my stash along with some blue Kona cotton to make this quilt for baby Bentley.

IMG_20151016_142351IMG_20151016_142015I decided to just do cross-hatch quilting (evenly spaced diagonal lines in two directions) on this quilt ,and it only took me about an hour using my supermachine. It actually took longer to bind it, which I did by hand while watching Downton Abbey.