Friday, October 31, 2014's personal..

My tagline up there says, "mostly crafty, sometimes personal..never perfect." This is one of the personal posts. There are so many happy things happening to blog about lately, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to, b/c every time I sit down to blog, I just can't do it. I can't write and be happy about these things, while overlooking the most momentous loss ever to hit our little family of three. Yet, so far just the thought of writing about this loss has dissolved me into tears more than once. I just haven't been able to do it. But today is the day I will face it. And document it. Because this is my journal, and these things deserve documenting. They are part of our story.  She was, and will forever be in our hearts, and part of our story.

Dolores Camilla Savio Fannin was 76 when she lost her life 3 weeks ago to pancreatic cancer.  Just shy of three months after her original complaint of pain and scheduling a Dr. appt to have it looked into.  It all happened so incredibly fast.  It seems like a blur. Surreal.

Here we are at A's end of school play near the beginning of summer. With no idea of what was about to come near the end of summer.

Her dad was an Italian immigrant who married the daughter of Mexican immigrants. 

(He ran his own grocery store in the Marina district of SF as early as the 1930's.)  She used to talk about growing up in a flat in SF, and as a little girl during WWII, having to turn off the lights and hang black curtains over the windows during blackout drills.

She married her sweetheart on Feb 14, 1960.

A few years ago, A made his Nana & Papa a heart shaped cookie for their anniversary/Valentine's Day.

She was the best Nana ever.

And the best MIL ever. Hard to believe this was nine years ago. I loved her more each day/visit/year that went by.

 A couple of years ago, for Mother's Day, I gave her "the bird".  Not THAT bird.. this quilty one.. she loved it b/c she had asked me to make her a quilt, and she was an avid birdwatcher and collector of birdhouses.  She also loved crosswords, and there's a bit of all of that in this quilt, with the bird fabrics, and a little bit of crossword fabric.  She also loved to write, and volunteered at the library, so the texty print was very "her", too. She was a neat, neat lady.

It was while "estate-saling" with her that I found my little featherweight. So many of our memories and so much of who we are involve her.  It's hard to believe she's gone.

When I joined a mug rug swap that raises $$ for Ovarian Cancer Research in September, I put on my questionnaire that I might give mine to my MIL who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My sweet mug rug partner sent me TWO.  One for me and one for my MIL. Unfortunately, it all happened so fast.  She was home on hospice before I could give it to her. :( So hers now lives with my SIL, who loves it. My partner was soo sweet to do this! I know my MIL would have loved it.

Thanks to those of you who kept her and our family in your prayers.  It was really hard dealing with all of the emotions while trying to keep some sense of routine/normalcy for A, who was having his innocence stripped away a bit at a time at only 7 (now 8) yrs old. 

The day in August that my MIL had surgery in SF, in which we were expecting them to remove the cancer, or as much of it as they could, the Dr came out early and told us it had spread everywhere and that there was nothing they could do. Devastated with the news, and waiting for her to come out of recovery, I left my hub and family at the hospital and took A back to the hotel.  He needed a break and somewhere quiet to process it. We had a mommy/son lunch date in the hotel, where A was excited to sit up at the bar to eat.  Only, he very obviously wasn't 21, so we weren't allowed to sit up at the bar after all. I snapped this pic of him with my phone b/c I never wanted to forget that sweet face. His world was about to change.

He asked me some tough questions that day. Like, "is Nana gonna die tomorrow?" At that point, the Dr had said 9 or 10 months, which seems like forever to a 7 yr old, so he was very relieved. We talked about God, and Heaven, and life and death.  

A few weeks after her surgery, she was told it could be 2 weeks to 2 mo., and she would come home on hospice, and only be with us for three more weeks.

We spent that weekend of her original surgery in SF at the hospital with her, and also trying to create some fun memories for A, to have some balance. He loved riding the cable car for the first time.

..and sitting inside Grace Cathedral, looking around in awe at its design and telling me all about how he wants to visit the Notre Dame. I sat in Grace Cathedral trying to figure out how he knew about the Notre Dame. ? It also gave us another opportunity to talk about what's going on with Nana and say a prayer for her.

She was so happy that A was getting to explore a little of the city that she grew up in.  From the hospital hallway windows, she could point out to us different buildings and schools that she or her brother went to.

She wanted to hear all about his adventures in the city.

He was so excited that we rode the city bus, the cable car, and the hotel shuttle all in the same day, and was very disappointed that we couldn't ride in a cab to make it four public transportation systems in one day.

Little did we know that day, that in the span of just a few weeks, she would be gone.

We will miss her terribly, but are so glad that she doesn't have to suffer any more than she did.  She was ready.  It progressed so brutally fast. She passed on Oct. 10th, in her sleep. The last time A saw her, she hugged him tight for a long time and told him how very much she loved him, and to always be a good speller for Nana. sniff. 

This is possibly my most favorite picture ever b/c it has all of A's grandparents together, plus one great grandparent. The two ladies he's standing in front of are no longer with us but I will be eternally grateful that he got to know them and will always have memories of them. 

You are missed, D.  We love you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Cushion Cover and a Giveaway Winner Announcement

A couple of weeks ago, my MIL wanted me to help her go through some of her old sewing stuff. She ended up giving me lots of it, which I'll share later, but in one of the boxes, I found this canvas seed bag that I thought would make a good, quick pillow cover project.  She has been such a collector of so many cool things.

This seed bag though, seemed especially made for this dingy, round fur pillow whose cover doesn't come off to wash, but my son won't let me get rid of b/c he's attached to it. (I fear that I have a 7 year old hoarder-ha!)

This is the bag, it was a pretty big one.  I love that the seed company/bag is from our hometown.

It was the perfect size to wrap around this pillow! Like it was meant to be.

So I just cut out the front of the bag, and sewed a couple of burlap strips on each side.. (you can get burlap in the remnant section sometimes at JoAnn for really really cheap!)

Then I used another remnant for the ends and sewed up the final seam.  I didn't take pics of that process, but here's the end.  I used some ribbon scraps from my MIL's stuff and bam! A pillow cover.  For less than $5.  And it has special meaning, b/c it's made from some of my MIL's saved and collected items.


She's not doing well at all. The pancreatic cancer is quickly stealing her away from us.  Please keep praying for her and the family.  I really appreciate it! She will always be in our hearts no matter what, but it also gives me comfort to know that we will have little reminders dotted around our house.

In other news, Congrats to Lori, who is the winner of the giveaway for the layer cake of Moonlight Manor from the Fat Quarter Shop..which I was supposed to pick on October 1st, but had to put off due to present circumstances.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by and entered!  I'll be emailing you Lori!
Hug your loved ones extra tight.
Happy Tuesday. xo

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Drunken Chevron Quilt/Tutorial & a Giveaway!

 When I heard from Daniar at the Fat Quarter Shop asking if I'd like to take their challenge to make something I've never tried before for National Sewing and Quilting Month, I knew immediately what I wanted to make. 

A Drunkard's Path Quilt. I'd had this design floating in my head for some time, but just didn't know if I had it in me to tackle curved seams at this point in my life.  

You see, my MIL has recently been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer (if you're a praying friend, please pray for her peace and comfort), and it's all been happening so fast.  Less than two months from her initial appointment to being home on's been devastatingly sad and still is if I'm being honest.. I wasn't even sure if I would finish this, but I managed it.. just in the nick of time.  It ended up being the perfect stress relief. Sitting and listening to the machine hum while processing this new reality.

So about a month ago, when Daniar asked what I'd like my personalized banner to say, I told her this:

Little did I know how true this would turn out to be.  Sewing up "Drunken Chevron" turned out to be great therapy for me.  The technique is so easy.  And NO curved seams!!!  And did I mention NO CURVED SEAMS? ;)

I figured out a way to make it work for me. Perfect for when you just want to sit at the machine, listening to it zoom along and give your brain a break from stress. Which we've been experiencing in abundance lately. But enough about that for now..let me tell you how I made this without a curved seam in sight.

I used lots of Notting Hill fabrics, plus some other prints from my stash. (these colors make me happy! happy as I can be right now anyway..) You will need (39) 10" squares (layer cake friendly), and approx. 1 1/4 yd. of the chevron fabric.  Make sure it has plenty of contrast.  I found that out the hard way the first time! Take three of the 10" squares and quarter them into 5" squares, and set them aside for assembly of the quilt top.

Here are the tools I used:

Yep, that's a 6 3/4" dessert plate, a frixion pen, and a glue stick. :) I didn't have any templates so just made do with what I had on hand.  First, I traced and cut out (36) circles.

Then, to place them, I marked the centers of both the circle and the 10" square by first folding the circle in half..

..then in half again..

..then marking each side of the point with the frixion pen..

..and then repeating with the 10" square.  Make sure to fold and mark the circle with the wrong side out, and the square with the right side out.

Unfold them, and run the glue stick around the edge of the circle..

..and then match the "v" marks and smooth it into place, right sides up. If a wrinkle gets in there, just pull it up and smooth it back out.

..and then applique into place (I used a zigzag stitch)..

..iron flat (frixion marks disappear!), and then pull the two layers of the circle apart up to the seam, separating the glued layers.

Make a snip in the back layer only, about a quarter inch from the stitching, making sure that you are only catching the back layer, and then cut out the back layer of the circle.

(You will have an array of colorful circles left at the end of this project for another project.) :)

When all (36) 10" squares are appliqued and trimmed, quarter them into 5" squares. (the block may be slightly less than 10" after applique, but if that's the case, don't worry, it shouldn't be too far off and will all work out.)

Mix and match the 5" (cheater) Drunkard's Path blocks and sew together into blocks like this (make 30):

Using two plain 5" squares that were set aside earlier, and six of the above blocks, sew together into five rows like this with the two plain squares at the bottom. (The direction of these rows will alternate in the final layout.)

Then make the left edge row and the right edge row like so:

                 -L-      -R-

Final layout:

It was a lot of fun to sew up, and it's super forgiving, b/c if your circles aren't exactly scientifically in the center, it's okay.  There are no points to match really, they are drunken chevrons after all. ;) No templates, no brain-exploding math.. no complicated tools. Just a dessert plate, a glue stick and a zigzag stitch.  Priceless therapy.

OH, and the FQS also had a list of questions that they wanted us to include and a free pattern link for you, so here goes:

1. How did you start quilting/sewing?

My grandmothers quilted, but my mom taught me to sew when I was younger.  She used to sew clothes. Then I took a sewing class in high school.

2. When was the first time you knew that you were a quilter/sewer?

When I made a skirt and a lined jacket in high school--quilting came later.

3. Do you have any sewing/quilting horror stories/faux pas?

Too many to list. :) My worst quilting story is my run-in with the rotary cutter and a huge gash in my finger. :/

4. What advice to you have for someone who is just starting out sewing/quilting?

Make what you love and never give up!

Thanks to the Fat Quarter Shop for including me!! If you'd like, head over and check out their Color of my Heart free pattern sheet.

Also, they have very generously offered to give one of my readers a layer cake of Moonlight Manor:

Just leave me a comment to be entered. **Giveaway Closed**  I will pick the winner on October 1st. :)

Happy Fall!!!!