Friday, May 30, 2014

Baby quilt tutorial--not perfect by an means but so cute!

I recently made three baby quilts in about as a few short weeks!

Ok, so here we go.  I really wanted to do each of them with 5" blocks.  I wanted one to be a ocean theme, one to be a jungle theme and one to be an International Harvester theme.  I wasn't sure how to do the binding like I have seen so many quilts done so I thankfully had a friend's grandma who helped me!

 Let's begin...
Decide how big you want your baby quilt.  I made them just a bit longer than some websites will suggest, only because I wanted the little ones (all three mommies are pregnant and got these at their showers) to be able to use them in their "big girl/boy beds."  I bought about 3/4 yard of each of the materials not including the back/binding.  I also bought a yard of batting.  I used either the lightweight that has to be cut at the fabric store, or the packaged kind.  I bought all of my fabrics and batting with my coupons at Joann fabrics!

After you have picked out your fabrics, you need to wash, machine dry and iron them.  I used my rotary cutter and cutting mat to make 5" strips of each of the fabrics (A, B, and C) that I want in the front. Next, I sewed A,B and C together in strips.  Whatever order you do them in is up to you! I tried to make 8 or 9 strips so that it makes the blanket wide enough. This isn't my photo but it gives you an idea what I mean.
After the strips are all sewn together, then I cut them the opposite direction 5" again.  I did two or three sets of strips so that I could mix them up once I sewed them up. This picture sort of gives you an idea of what I am talking about.  The green is another step! So after you have your three (or two) of strips, put them in the order you want to sew them together.  Lay them out on the floor and rearrange a few times.  If need be, you can add a single square or two at either end.  It helps make the look go the way you want.  

For the green border, I cut 4 strips 3" wide.  I put one across the top and bottom first and then did the sides.  I did this because I thought it made it look nicer but either way is fine!  Now that you have sewn the top together, you will need to layer the top, batting and the backing.  If you don't have a frame to quilt/knot the frame on, pin the edges first and then pin the middle, a LOT!  Large safety pins work great for this. If you don't have them, use long straight pins but keep all pieces as still as possible while pinning.

At this point, you need  to either knot or quilt your quilts.  I knotted them because I was on a time crunch but mostly because I like the old feel it gives them. I used DMC floss to knot them.  One was done with all six strands and the other two I used three.

 I used about 1 1/2 yards for the back and binding. I cut just over a yard for the back.  For the bindings, I cut 2" wide strips.  In order to attach the strips together,  you need to pin them so they form a "L" shape.  The first two pictures show what they look like front and back after sewn.  The next picture shows the picture of the binding folded in half and ironed. 

Before you sew on the binding, take the time to carefully trim the batting and back to be even with the front.
To sew the binding on, you need to make sure  the folded edge is facing the main part of the quilt.  I pinned this a lot also so that it stayed neat for m.  I also took my time with the corners. I am including a video I found online that shows how I did the corners.

After you sew all the binding on, you will need to fold the binding over to the back.  If you look at the picture it shows the back of the binding.  You need to pin it again and I hand sewed two of them this way.  I did the jungle one by sewing "in the ditch."  This means you very slowly and carefully machine sew the binding to the back by stitching it together from the front.  I hope that makes sense! This last picture is the final product of the one I enjoyed the most.  I was able to get the mom's grandmother and great-aunt to knot it for me! 

Please feel free to leave comments or questions.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

A walk through the past and into the future!

Okay, so the story begins back in high school working in the kitchen at the local nursing home.  I worked there for four years in the kitchen.  I remember having small issues with psoriasis but back then I figured it was due to working with bleach water without gloves.  I guess the arthritis didn't start until after graduation and was probably brought on by working as a certified nursing aide.  I loved the work but it was so very hard on my back!  I was also bowling every week with a friend and then with my husband and after a couple of years, I realized it was bothering my thumb and middle finger.  My knuckles tend to swell up and stay that way for a few days!  I finally decided to quit bowling on leagues about twenty years ago.  I missed now bowling but I couldn't take the pain any more. 

I guess it has been about fifteen years or so ago, I was realizing that I was always tired! Nothing I did helped. I tried less caffeine, Benedryl at night, going to bed earlier than normal, etc.  Nothing worked.  I finally went to the doctor (repeatedly) and nothing came up.  Eventually the family doctor suggested a rheumatologist.  She ran a bunch of tests and my ANA levels came up positive.  It is a low positive but it is still positive.  Tiredness, sleepiness, sleeplessness, sensitivity to sun, and even what they call a "butterfly effect" across my cheeks. It looks like I am blushing or overheated when I'm not.  Lupus and psoriatic arthritis are both autoimmune diseases.  They can be brought on by infections, illness, or even stress. Around the time the symptoms showed up, we had ten funerals in less than two years!  This includes my sister, two of my grandparents, my husband's mom, grandmother, and a few other people that were close to us or to our family.

Somewhere in these time frame I also started seeing a dermatologist about my skin.  It was breaking out and getting scaly looking on my elbows, hands, sometimes the knees, (front or back), back and ears.  Turns out that not only do I have the psoriasis but I have eczema!  The pictures below show some of the bad spots I have right now. My hands are the worst right now.  If you look closely, you can see my ring finger is red right near the nail.  The skin was recently infected because of a major breakout.  The nail was starting to loosen up because of the infection.  I was an antibiotic for ten days and the nail is slowly coming off. Oh yay! 
My fingers crack all the time.  So if this Enbrel works, it will be so nice to have normal fingers again! Imagine trying to crochet, sew, open things or recently even writing a check was a problem! My thumb was cracked and it split even wider as I tried to write. I ended up having to use my card, and put the check in my wallet to destroy later!

One of my goals is to update my pictures.  I am using the Enbrel twice a week for now, and then it goes to once a week.  I know have to give my self an pre-measured injection! Weird but hey if it works!

So the doctors think I have eczema, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus. Oh, and around Christmas, my asthma kicks in big time due to folks bringing in real trees into their houses. In my case, the fake ones work! I don't have to water it either!  Some days I have trouble getting out of bed. I wake up almost every morning feeling tired like I didn't sleep.  Most days, I hurt somewhere. The medication I take on a normal basis is Neurontin and Plaquenil.  Due to the meds I take I have to have an eye exam every six months which includes my eyes being dilated.  Blahhh, not my favorite thing to do! I get blood work at least twice a year to make sure my levels are staying where they need to be.

I know it causes me problems playing with my grand-daughter but I know that she won't always be the adorable two year she is! I want to be able to keep up with her and some days I just have to suffer a little and remember to take Advil or Tylenol!

 I am not complaining, just hoping I can help someone else realize they aren't alone! I have had a number of people pray for me and I greatly appreciate that. I know that I am going through this for a reason, but for this time in my life I am okay with not knowing what God has in mind!  I look at two of my friends who are dealing with cancer, and in different ways fight for their life everyday, and realize this is doable. 

Please feel free to email me with questions or leave a comment below.  Thanks!



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gifts from my kiddos

This is why I love my job! Gifts from my pre-k kiddos for my birthday!    
  A lemon cake with an "L" for librarian!