Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Quilts for Casey!

I've been playing a lot in my scraps of late... making some quilts for charity.  This has been on my mind and in my heart for quite some time.  Personally, I feel we are all blessed with gifts/talents and it only feels right to me to use those gifts to bless others.  A recognition of gratitude, if you like, for all that is well in our lives and a need to pass it on to those who are having a hard time.

It wasn't that long ago, that I became a single parent and struggled to pay bills, feed my three kids and keep a roof over our heads.  And sadly, sometimes I felt like I was having to chose between those things - which is more important?  Having a roof over your head or eating???? Its ridiculous that with three kids, I even had to contemplate that.... I didn't drink, I didn't smoke, I used my money wisely but yet it would only stretch so far.  That, my friends, was some very scary times.  I would often go to bed wondering, what if we can't afford to stay in the house, where will we go???  I had been out of the workforce for over ten years raising my kids so it took some time for me to get on my feet, re-skill and find work.

I think about this time in my life a lot, particularly in winter - when its freezing outside. No doubt there is someone sleeping on the streets trying to find shelter from the icy wind and rain.  Or someone wondering if they can afford to put the heater on.  Statistics show most people are only a few paychecks away from poverty.  It can happen to any of us really.  And please don't make the mistake of thinking "well the government provides for these people - thats why we have pensions etc".  I'm sorry to tell you that for many of us, the money received on the pension is pretty lean.  I am eternally grateful for the support I received from the local support service in our community.  When my budget wouldn't stretch to include petrol, they gave me petrol vouchers.  When our grocery bill was tight, they gave me food vouchers.  When the new school year came about, they helped out with school uniform expenses.  They listened, they talked to me and reassured me I was doing all the right things, and that things will get better in time.

And they did :)  I re-educated myself, started a little business working during school hours, and... perhaps the nicest surprise... fell in love.  You just never know how things can change and I feel incredibly blessed that I can say that tough time in my life has passed but ohhhh I learnt so much about myself and life during that period.  I believe its made me a stronger person, and I have learnt to spend my money very wisely so I have no regrets.

Anyway.... I've decided that I can be part of the solution... I, with my humble gift, can return the blessing, pass it on, and bring a tiny ray of hope to those who need it most... with my sewing.

Using my scraps I'm making quilts.

Quilts to bring comfort to someone who really needs it.
Quilts to keep someone warm.
Quilts to let them know that someone is thinking of them.
Quilts to say that someone out there cares.
Quilts to say 'hang in there', it gets better, there is hope.

I made contact with the Casey North Information and Support Service and they were very enthusiastic about the whole idea and would be grateful for any quilts that are made.  They have had some quilts made for them in the past and they were extremely well received and the recipients became quite emotional when given them.  Of course, they will given to those who really need them.

I had a meeting with the director of the support service and was surprised to learn that in our local community (I live in the City of Casey, Melbourne, Australia) we have a growing homeless sector.  People who, for whatever reason, are having to sleep in tents, couch surfing at friends houses here and there, and disturbingly, women who have to resort to making themselves vulnerable in order to find shelter for the night.  Unfortunately, our local services are just not equipped to handle homelessness yet.  There are no hostels for these people unless they relocate to areas which do have these services.  Of course the support service see a wide variety of people with varying needs... single parents and pensioners struggling to make ends meet, women and their children fleeing domestic violence, people dealing with life threatening illnesses struggling to afford treatment, youth living on the streets just to name a few.

I went home after that meeting and had my humble sandwich and apple for lunch.  I felt like the richest person on earth.  But surely, knowing that this kind of suffering exists, we should do something?  Personally, I feel I can't turn a blind eye to it anymore.

Would you like to join me?

Anyone who feels this is something they would like to do... at this early stage, while we are getting set up, I am collecting completed quilts onlyany size (lap, single bed, double bed, queen bed), any style/theme (kids - girls and boys theme, parents, elderly).  Please use 100% cotton fabrics with cotton or wool batting.

Please only send quilts you would be happy to receive yourself.  Please remember: we are not just slapping any old pieces of fabric together - we are making special quilts that will become a treasured item for someone for years to come.  They will be quilts that are washed often and loved dearly, probably more than we realise.

I'm sorry at this stage I'm not able to assist with postage costs.

Personally, I have dug through some of my old tops that I've fallen out of love with, finishing them up and am giving them to this cause.  I have presented this cause to the Beaconsfield Quilt Guild, of which I am a member, and they have embraced it with open arms so this project will combine with their work of making quilts for palliative care at our local hospital.

All quilts will go to the support service with this label attached.  You can also attach your own if you like.

Please leave your request for more details in the comments and I will send you the address for mailing.  Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

At the moment, all quilts going to the support centre will be pictured on this blog with an acknowledgement of who made them.

These are a few of the quilts I have made to go to the centre.  I have a few more which are just tops at this stage and need quilting.  I'm hoping to get them done in the next few weeks and make my second delivery.  I'll post more pics as the quilts are ready for delivery.

Until next time

Yours in Stitches

Leanne x

Monday, 28 September 2015

Hello... again! Time flies...

Wow lovelies, July was my last post and frankly I'm surprised its taken me this long to get a post together.  Sometimes life just gets in the way.  I'm still about, haven't fallen off the face of the earth... just been busy, a few medical issues and well... a bad blogger lol.

Much has happened since I last posted.  I'm still madly in love with Miss Juki... she's such a dream to use and I've quilted a few things in the last few months including a double bed size quilt for one of my students!  Something I never could have done on my little Janome.

You may remember, many moons ago, I had some projects coming up in the August and September issues of Homespun Magazine.  Now that those issues have hit the stores I can now display my projects here.  Homespun did a wonderful job of styling them don't you think?

Love Begins at Home Sampler in August 2015 Homespun Magazine:

Raspberry Tart Pincushion in September 2015 Homespun Magazine:

Here are some other projects I managed to finish along the way....

This quilt, you may remember, was just a flimsy until my stepdaughter requested a quilt for a fundraiser night she was organising.  A family she knows has a boy with muscular dystrophy and they need to purchase a wheelchair modified vehicle.  A friend of mine recently went through the same process so I am aware these vehicles cost around $70,000 and our government only provides a financial assistance of around $5,000.  The remainder of the funds have to be raised by the family which, I think is a huge ask for families coping with an already challenging daily life.

Although I love the fabrics I wasn't overly impressed with this quilt when I pieced it.  Given the urgency of the request I pulled it out of the cupboard and quilted it in a swirl pattern with a nice shiny thread.  By the end of it I had fallen in love all over again - amazing how the quilting can transform a quilt!  It was very hard to part with but it raised some much needed funds for a very worthy cause.

Lately I've been really interested in making quilts that are unique to me, rather than following patterns.  I have discovered Improv quilting and bought some great books on the subject.  As a result I feel that slowly I'm growing as a quilter - exploring style and colour, and starting to take more risks.  This all started when I purchased this book by Victoria Findlay-Wolfe called 15 Minutes of Play.  I'm now focused on rotating old fabrics out of my stash, using up fabric that has been sitting and sitting and getting some of those old UFO's finished.  I'm enjoying the process.

Some of my personal projects got tackled...

I am determined to have a Christmas quilt this year and had been hanging onto these fabrics for ages. In the end I just went for it, improve style, and this is what resulted.  Its not finished yet, I still have a border to add on but I'm really liking it so far.

This is surprisingly my very first Sampler quilt.  I used it as a learning tool to teach one of my students accurate cutting and seaming.  I just used fabrics already in my stash and I'm thinking it will be great to donate to Quilts of Valour Australia.  The pattern was free online here.

Also, I've taken a few steps forward in something very close to my heart.... charity quilts.  I'm going to talk about this in the next post because I really do have a lot to say on the matter, so stay tuned.

In amongst this we had a the Melbourne Quilt and Craft show which my students and I attended together - so much nicer to go with friends than by yourself.  Also our guild had guest speaker Irene Blanck come and show us her beautiful quilts.  And a couple of us went to a workshop with Michelle Yeo at Millrose Cottage in Ballan... oh my, what a fabric heaven that place was!  I can't wait to get back there for some stash enhancement ;)

I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday, Sew Fresh Quilts - Lets Bee Social!, Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday and My Quilt Infatuation - Needle and Thread Thursday.

Well, until next time

Leanne x