A Letter from a Fellow Doctor as we take on the Covid-19 Pandemic

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As we dive deep into the Covid-19 pandemic I wanted to share a poignant and vulnerable post from one of our Neurologists  to our health care workers.  I think it has applicability to those who of us who work in healthcare as well as those of us navigating this in other ways across the world. Stay strong and thank you in advance for all you/we will do!

“Most of you know, I served in Afghanistan in 2010-2011, after the “surge” started in 2009. A few of your colleagues have similar experiences, but may not talk about it. I do talk about it, but haven’t shared all of what happened because, in honesty, I never know how to tell the story truthfully without either sounding unrealistically heroic, or dwelling on all the scary things and all the mistakes I made. The truth is somewhere in the middle–at least I hope it is in the middle, because I know it’s not on the heroic side.
So here it is:
1. You have actually already done this.
You have already had call nights that have been miserable. You have already had to triage things that are “untriageable,” like 3 (or more) immediate/time sensitive emergencies that have to be treated right away, but there is only one of you. It feels awful. Your choice is the right choice, because any choice in this circumstance is actually an illusion (there is no actual choice, just a bad situation). The situation is what it is. What you decide is right even if someone else would have done it different because you are the one doing the work, not them. You are always better than no one (a lot better), and the reality is that if it isn’t you, there might be no one to do it.
It feels bad, the outcomes will not be perfect–the outcomes may even be bad, but you are doing the right thing.
2. Practicing outside your area of specialty is incredibly uncomfortable
I’m neurologist. Blood is not my thing. Even now, it still isn’t my thing. Viral pathogens are no one’s thing. There is a lot of fear working in an area where you essentially have medical student level of knowledge. You will feel awful, and stupid (if you are a normal person—I envy those who always think they are right), but you will still get things done. It is ok to feel bad, and you will feel bad—just expect it. Later you will joke about it with friends or others who were there. It’s surprising how far you can get with just medical school level of knowledge. Other more experienced providers may be too busy to help, but when they can, remember what they say for the next patient. When you have time, read about things that you are worried about (for me, there was a ATLS book that I had to order from home—was not actually helpful, but it made me feel better). You will feel you are doing a worse job than you are.
3. Fear acts on all of us differently, and is different in the same person at different times
At some times you will feel like you froze. Most likely you did, but no one saw. Time dilates, so a few seconds or even a minute feels like forever. This is really hard to accept when you are a more senior physician, because you would think we’ve already gotten through the scary parts. If you have to go slow, then go slow. If someone else has to take over for a second, it’s ok. You didn’t fail. There will be days where you are on the top of your game and you are doing everything right, and days where nothing feels right. Most likely, you are doing the same thing, equally well, on both days. If you can help others in their moments of dread, try to, but you will likely be too busy to notice, and others will be too busy to notice you. Don’t think you will always freeze if you did once (or five times), and don’t think others will always freeze if you catch them. The reality is that we all will struggle at different times and in different situations. No one is perfectly brave all the time. One day the a situation may seem insurmountable, the next routine.
4. Nothing will go “to plan”
It is nice to have a plan. It does give a framework and options. It at least tells you where the resources are. As soon as the helicopters land, the plan turns into a list of things that doesn’t happen. Don’t be surprised. You still need a plan though, and you will find which parts work, which don’t, and adapt. At first, there will be too many variables that even the most future thinking person will not be able to predict. People are also independent and may not follow the plan even when it is a good one. It will change day to day, generally for the better.
If 10% of what we plan happens, and we have 50% of what we need, our leadership has done an amazing job. So far, I think we are going to beat those numbers. We are pretty lucky to have the leadership that we do—I’ve had way worse. (I’m biased, but I do overhear things, and I worked at a few other hospitals before here). I know that there has been no days off for the leadership trying to coordinate, make contingencies, beg, borrow, and probably steal the resources they can. I’ve watched a pregnant lady go 3+ weeks with no days off in her 3rd trimester (makes me feel like a little inadequate–not gonna lie). Are there things they aren’t telling us? Sure, there has to be. We will need to get over that. They don’t tell me everything and my spying isn’t perfect. In Afghanistan I had no insider knowledge. But, they do have to make decisions just like we will–trying to get things organized for the greater good. In the end, it’s not about us; it’s about getting the job done.
5. Resources will be limited
In Afghanistan we could get much of what we wanted, and were very well supplied. However, there is never really enough when things get busy. Even though we could get things we needed, it took a minimum of 3 days to fly in, which is too long to be useful most the time. Right now, the whole country (the entire world) has limited supply. We have to plan that there is no back up, because even as more masks/test kits/[whatever else] are made, the rate will likely be slower than our use, especially now. When you use a supply, it is not there for the next day. So we have to be careful. Only use what you need. If the precautions are droplet, not airborne, then use droplet. For Afghanistan, it was generally blood products, surgical supplies, and things that just were not predicted would be important. Here, it’s likely PPE. Save airborne (N95’s etcetera) for the high-risk airborne situations. “This is ideal” has to be replaced with “good enough,” “acceptable,” “borderline/but workable,” sometimes even “sketchy.” This is still better than not having a resource when you really need it in the worst situations. And, we may need to plan for that too.
The situation is not perfect, and it never will be. It is a very hard mindset to be in for our culture. We don’t tend to live without grocery isles filled with toilet paper, but that is the current reality.
6. You will not be perfect
You will be far from perfect. You won’t be able to practice medicine to the level that you want. We all have very high expectations for what we do. You are not going to practice to the best of your ability, even if this is your area of specialty. There just isn’t time. Trying to be perfect for one means that you may not have been good enough for the majority. These are situations where you just do your best. Just being there, being a body that has some medical knowledge is helpful. Even in the smallest roles.
7. We will be exposed
For Afghanistan, that exposure was rocket attacks on the base (which were frequent) and people carrying grenades and explosives into the trauma bay (rare). We were at risk all the time, at the hospital and in the barracks. In this situation, the potential exposure is everywhere. It may even be a little scarier, because you can’t really see the threat. It is important to be vigilant, try to protect yourself, try to protect your friends, but realize that exposure is going to happen. It might have already happened, or happen when you get off work to pick up milk on the way home. Some/most of us will get sick (maybe all of us). Luckily, most of us are not high risk for complications, and our kids are also low risk. Plan on getting exposed. Sadly, this is part of the game. Even in a perfect situation, we are exposed to things every work day and things are not going to be perfect.
8. You will be judged unfairly
Mostly, you will judge yourself very unfairly. Your expectations are going to clash with reality. There is only so much you can do. Most likely, you will find you are not the hero you want to be (that was the most disappointing for me). Even when you do something heroic (and you will), it won’t feel like it. Others will praise you for what you feel are mistakes, and may even criticize you for things you did well. It is worse when it is clearly unfair–when others are making decisions about you with incomplete information or poor baseline knowledge. Just be ready for it. It won’t be fair. It doesn’t make it feel any better, but knowing it is going to happen helps a little.
9. Humor Helps
The humor is going to be dark. Anyone who was not there, will not understand. The jokes will sound awful, but it will be funny. Don’t feel bad for laughing. Don’t feel bad for making horribly inappropriate jokes. You will get booed for the bad ones, and people will laugh for the good ones. Both are helpful. Better to cope with laughing than crying, although both are acceptable.
…so does profanity
The occasional F-bomb feels fucking great. The situation is crazy, we’re fucked. Now, lets try to unfuck things. Profanity is fucking awesome. I mean seriously…fuck. (Shit, I can tell you, it was fucking hard to get rid of my motherfucking deployment potty mouth. Use it if you need to…just not in front of television cameras, and tone it down for the kids).
10. We are all in this together
We are all in the same boat, although different parts of the boat at different times. You will see the best even in people you don’t like. You will likely make grudging friendships. Roles will vary. Nurses may act as doctors, doctors may act as nurses–we all have to get things done. Don’t forget how important other roles are. It’s not all about the doctors and nurses. EVS, Lab, pharmacy, bed control, administration, food service, and so many I probably have neglected, all make it so we live through this – no one is sleeping well, and we can’t do our job without each other. Don’t diminish the roles of others. Everyone is working their asses off.
Most important. Be kind to each other.
If there is conflict, try to view it from another person’s perspective. They are likely working well outside their comfort zone. They aren’t going to do the same things you will, and sometimes they will be right, and sometimes they will be wrong–just like you. If someone is clearly losing it, let them go until they do can’t go anymore (they won’t want to stop until they are ready), then make them sit down. Make them eat, have coffee, a coke, anything, for as long as they need. They will be back sooner than you expect. Sugar, sleep, and breathing fixes everything.
So that’s it.
Hopefully this helps if it really comes to it. I’m praying it doesn’t, and pretending I’m ready if it does (pretending also helps but this is already too long). I’m not really an inspiring speech kind of guy – clearly. My corpsmen and the nurses I worked with can attest to that, but we did get things done. We won’t be famous for what we do. We will put ourselves in bad situations to help others. We won’t get medals or ribbons to even say we were there, or to say we did a good job. But we will be able to participate in the most noble of pursuits, helping others.”

Hillary

Book Review :: Art Quilts Unfolding-50 Years of Innovation

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Art Quilts Unfolding-50 Years of Innovation

Over the last two years I have innumerable conversations with fellow quilters inquiring about a book they knew of that detailed a history of quilting beyond that which we are familiar in the Traditional and Modern realm.  I have wanted to know more about some of my quilting heroes including Nancy Crow, Eleanor McCain, Tom Harding, Michael James and others.  Though identified as a Modern Quilter I find the labels “traditional”, “modern” and “art” quilter a bit limiting and prefer to see all quilters regardless of label as part of a greater collective and movement.  Something that filled in the details of this aspect of our collective quilting history was desired.

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Fast forward to two months ago, I was asked to give my take on a new book coming out from SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) by Sandra Sider, Nancy Bavor, Lisa Ellis and Martha Sielman.  Little did I know that this book was so much of what I was asking for.

 

 

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Art Quilts Unfolding first off is substantial, comprising 350 pages of important history of the Art Quilt movement.  And the quilts . . . I have already spent hours, pouring over the beautiful pieces shown and the text that highlights the artists behind them.  They are stunning and there are so many pieces and artists that I was unfamiliar with.  I truly enjoy seeing the art form change in the chronological order that the quilts are laid out and find this book both the coffee table piece you can just turn the pages of to find inspiration and  the history book that fills in the details of an important quilting movement over the last 50 years.

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The book in addition, goes into different innovations and experimentation that have transformed the Art Quilt movement as well as delving into important publications, galleries and museum collections and collectors through the years.

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There also is a recognition of the Modern Quilt movement and it’s place in the collective history.  I was very excited to see some familiar quilters included in the book.  (Jacquie Gering, Luke Haynes, Chawne Kimber, Joe Cunningham, Ruth McDowell, Maria Shell, Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Natalya Aikens to name a few)

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This year I asked my husband only for books as gifts over the holidays.  Little did I know that I had already been given my favorite book of the year.  Thank you SAQA for such a wonderful publication!  I believe every quilter will find this book fills an important space in their library.

I have included links both to Amazon and to Schiffer Publishing in the text above and also below where the book can be purchased if you are interested.

Art Quilts Unfolding

Art Quilts Unfolding-50 Years of Innovation

Hillary

 

Empathy

Today on the day we celebrate Juneteeth or Emancipation of Slavery and in a political setting where there seems to be such a lack of empathy and an increased interest in designating certain people “different” or “less then” I wanted to post a video that was shared at my last Medical Group meeting.  It is a reminder for all of us to see the humanity in every person.  Though this video occurs in a medical setting the sentiment is universal and such a good reminder.  Thanks for indulging me.

 

Hillary

Southwest Modern Blog Hop

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(copyright Lucky Spool Media, LLC: 2017 Kurt Griesbach)

Hey friends!  I am so excited today to share a little about Kristi’s (@initialkstudio on Instagram, http://www.initialkstudio.com ) new book with you.  She had me at pretty pictures, travel info and minimalist modern designs.  The deal was cinched when I got to meet the author at the latest Quiltcon.  Kristi is sweet, humble and a hard worker.  I love all of the above.

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There are so many great designs to pick from in this book.  I settled finally on her Chimney Trail pattern and used some fabric I had indigo dyed last year.  I love the organic vibe the hand dyed fabric brings to the very geometric design and think it stays true to the Southwestern theme.

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I backed the quilt with white quilting cotton and machine quilted horizontal lines.  At the last minute I decided to add some randomly spaced vertical stitching with traditional sashiko thread and needle.  I ran out of time to hand quilt as densely as I would like but will probably add some more with time.  There were a few blocks leftover when I was done that I decided to stitch together and made up some organic pillows.  I can see this combo being well used in the summer weather.

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Kristi’s designs are beautiful to gaze upon and her instructions make them easy to make. I am excited to share a book with one blog reader.

To enter:
1. Follow me (@entropyalwayswins ) and @initialkstudio on instagram
2. You must comment on the blog post to be entered to win. Bonus entries occur for those who comment on my Instagram post.

3. The winner will be announced Monday, March 12th at 5 pm.

Be sure to catch all the amazing bloggers and amazing makes in the blog hop and join in for more chances to win the book.

Also note, that Kristi is having a Grand Prize Giveaway at the end of the blog hop courtesy of the following sponsors.

1. Signed copy of Southwest Modern by Lucky Spool

2. FQ bundle by Robert Kaufman

3. FQ bundle by Me & You Fabrics

4. Southwest Modern Thread Collection by Aurifil

 

Best Luck!

Hillary

Felt Messenger Bag Tutorial

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Over the last couple of years I have been playing with a messenger bag design of my own imagining.  I have come to love thick wool felt as bag medium and have been using the design to pay tribute to important women using leather appliqué.  In hopes of inspiring others to do the same I wanted to share my methods.  My demonstration bag is an abstract design.  There are a ton of possibilities.

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Supplies

3 mm Felt ( I purchased mine from Aetna Felt  www.aetnafelt.com .  One 72” wide yard makes 2 1/2 bags.  You can also use 5 mm felt but it is much harder on a domestic machine)

Pieces of thin scrap leather to use as adornment (It is important to use very thin suede or leather to make sewing on a domestic machine easier)

Fabric Marker (I like Dritz Disappearing Ink pen or chalk pencils)

Quilter’s Ruler

Rotary Cutter

Leather Hole Punch

Small Sized Rivets and Rivet Setter(If you are uncomfortable with rivet setting, screw in rivets are a nice alternative and if you chose to use 5mm thick wool, I recommend medium sized rivets)

Thread (thick upholstery thread is ideal but I honestly use what I have around)

Fabric-Tac Glue

Two 2 inch metal D rings

One 2 inch metal Slide Adjuster

2 yards of 2 inch Black Nylon Webbing

One magnetic bag closure set

Leather Needle and Walking Foot or Teflon Foot for your Machine

 

Step One: Prepare your leather design and cut out your Felt Pieces

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-Draw out a design and then cut pieces of leather or suede to match that design

-Cut one Front/bottom piece 12 x 12.5 inches

-Cut one Back/top piece 12 x 26 inches

-Cut one Side piece 4 x 36 inches

-Round the bottom edges of your Front/bottom piece (remember that it is slightly narrower side to side then top to bottom to assure you are rounding the correct edges) and round all sides of the Back/top piece.  I used a 4 inch circle template but you can use a small plate or can as your guide instead.

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Step Two: Appliqué your leather Design

-Using your long Front/top felt piece, right side toward you, arrange your leather appliqué as you would like it to appear on the bag.  Piece by piece, then glue down and sew 1/8 inch from edge each leather piece.  Make sure to use a leather needle and a walking foot or teflon foot on your machine.

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-At the bottom of the front piece before glueing and sewing all portions down, insert one part of your magnetic bag closure if you like facing to the back and hide by glueing and sewing a piece of appliquéd leather over it.  (see picture)

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Step Three: Sew your side and Front/Bottom Piece Together

 

-Using a 3/8 inch seam allowance sew, right sides together sew the long wool Side piece and the smaller Front/bottom piece.

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-Cut any extra of the side piece projecting from the top

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-Right sides together, using pins or wonder clips secure the unadorned half of your long Top/front piece to the side piece.  Before you begin sewing, the seam should be 14 inches from the end of the long Top/front piece on both sides.  Using a 3/8 inch seam allowance, sew along the edge.

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-Invert the bag and prepare for strap placement

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Step Three: Attach your Straps

-Cut two pieces of the 2 inch webbing 4 1/2 inches long and cut another piece 50 inches long (a lighter or match used at the cut edges helps melt and finish the end of the webbing)

-Fold one short webbing piece over a metal  D Ring.  Mark 4 positions in each corner at least 1/4 from the edge and punch holes in the webbing at the marked spots using your leather hole punch.  Repeat for the second D Ring and short webbing piece.

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-Center each D ring/webbing piece on the side 1/2 inch down from the top.  Using your marker, mark each hole you have made in the webbing onto the wool.  Punch holes through the wool in each of these spots and connect the wool and webbing/D ring piece on each side with your rivets and rivet setter(4 rivets per side).

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-Next, wrap the long webbing piece through the center of your Slide Buckle and fold over at least an inch and a half.  Mark two places 1/4 inch from the side, mark, hole punch and secure using two rivets.

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-Slip the free end of the webbing through one side D ring with the wrong side of the rivets facing up and lace the webbing under and then over through the Slide Adjuster (see picture).

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-Fold the open end of the webbing through the other side D ring and secure with two rivets as previously described making sure the webbing hasn’t twisted and keeping the wrong side of the rivets to the inside.

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Step 4: Attach the Other Piece of the Magnetic Closure

-Using the already inserted Magnetic Piece as a guide, mark and insert the other part of the magnetic closure facing toward you on the bottom/front felt piece.

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You’re Done!  Enjoy!  Tag me @entropyalwayswins and the project (#feltmessengerbag) on Instagram if you make one.  I would love to see.

 

Hillary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bee Sewcial Theme For October :: Unity

I am the Queen of our Improvisational Quilting Bee this month.  I have had a gazillion ideas but in the end this one feels right.  For this month I want to channel the idea of UNITY by making a quilt that uses long skinny blocks from each of my beemates.  See this tester block as a guide.

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I would like each of you to pick two solid fabric colors, one as the background base block and one as the “adornment” fabric.  I want you to pick a shade of pink or peach and a shade of blue or turquoise each in the medium value range.  Make the peach/pink pick your background fabric and your blue/turquoise pick your “adornment” color.  Please use only the two colors.

My vision is that there will be 10 long blocks all in a row “holding hands” by connecting mustard strips (as you see in the block).  Because I did not think far enough in advance and I want the mustard to match between blocks, I will sew them in BUT you can choose where and what angle the strip goes as long as it is somewhere in the middle third of the block.  Feel free to mark you block with a fabric marker to show me or leave it to me.  Either works.  I want the blocks to represent you somehow-the quilt will proverbially show the 10 of us standing together holding hands as long as you stick to your two colors, (one background and one adornment).

I need only one block from each of you and would like them between 5-7 inches wide and 40-50 inches long.

As always we would love others to join us.  Show us what you make with the theme by tagging on IG #inspiredbybeesewcial.

To Unity!

Hillary

Inset Pieced Strips on the Fly :: A Tutorial

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One of my favorite aspects of sewing is discovering new techniques while experimenting.  There are many weirdo sewing tricks I now rely upon but a latest discovery with piecing is so simple and helpful that I thought I should share more broadly.

Of note, there are several sewists especially in my Bee Sewcial quilting bee that have been dancing to the same proverbial melody in making.  I think of us often creating in parallel and most certainly learning from each other.  Indeed after I posted this tutorial on Instagram, my marvelous friend Marci (http://www.marcigirldesigns.com) said that she had used exactly this technique earlier this year without describing it.  For these reasons, the following technique is best attributed to our Bee Sewcial group as a whole.

Although I shared this on Instagram (where you can still find it under #insetstripsonthefly) I figured for posterity’s sake and easier reference I would make a more formal post about it.

I absolutely love some wonk in my makes.  Indeed I often seek it out as I appreciate the interest asymmetry adds to a piece.  There are times however when I really want things to line up perfectly, have a background seen uninterrupted through layers etc.  The classic “slice and insert” method for adding pieced lines in sewing is awesome but is frustrating when using sizes other then 1/2 inch finished strips (assuming a 1/4 inch seam allowance).  Unless you spend extra time with math, the background can look distorted.  I am actually a math lover, but the more time I have to calculate and think about sewing, the less fun it is for me.  This new technique works with any sized inset strips, doesn’t distort the background AND requires very little thinking.  All you need is fabric, scissors and washable glue.

Step 1: Gather you background fabric, some fabric strips and perhaps a plan (or not.  This technique is very fun to make up a design as you go.)

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Step 2: Line up your strip Right Sides Together(RST) with the background fabric along the line you plan to place your strip.  You may find it helpful to mark the line on your fabric with an erasable marker.  Realize that the marked line is 1/4 inch in from where the strip will be sewn to the background fabric.  Next, sew the strip using a quarter inch seam allowance (and keeping RST) along one side to your strip to your background fabric.

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Step 3: Fold the strip over along the sewn edge and press.  Unfold the strip back and iron a 1/4 inch fold all along the raw edge of the strip TOWARD the sewn edge.

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Step 4: With a light touch, apply your washable glue to the folded edge.

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Step 5: Fold the strip over and press in place.

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Step 6: Flip the whole thing over and cut with your scissors IN BETWEEN the strip the the bottom fabric 1/4 inch away from your sewn edge.

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Step 7: With the back still facing you, fold open and sew along the unsewn folded line.

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Step 8: Trim both sewn edges to give a clean 1/4 inch seam allowance.

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Step 9: Turn the whole piece to the front, press and add more inset strips as you like.

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I combined some inset strips, added an inset circle and then added more inset strips on top to exaggerate the sense of layers in this piece.  You can see how clean the technique is  by a view from the back (something I am often hesitant to do frankly when showing my makes!)

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There are so many ways to go with the technique.  (hint, hint: You can insert more then straight parallel strips this way). Below are a couple other blocks I made while playing around.

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I hope others find this tutorial helpful.  I would love to see what folks make with it.  If you are on Instagram tag me @entropyalwayswins and your make #insetstripsonthefly.

Hillary

 

Mary Schafer Exhibit at the Mercer Museum

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One of many things my friend Gwen Marston has taught me is that the quilting community at large is tremendously rich and it’s history important.  In that vein, I want to spread the word that now through August 13th at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown , Pennsylvania  there is a special special exhibit showing: “The Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History”.

Gwen wrote not one, but two books about her mentor, Mary Schafer, American Quilt Maker and Mary Schafer and Her Quilts (in collaboration with Joe Cunningham).  Ms Schafer is considered an important force behind the resurgent interest of quiltmaking in the 1970s, an expert quilter, a detailed quilt historian and a mentor to many.

If you get the opportunity, don’t miss the exhibit of the work by this important person in textile art.

With permission of the museum I am happy to share a couple of Mary’s Pieces.

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Grapes and Vines : Mary Schafer c 1972, flushing, Genesee County, Michigan; Cotton with Polyester Batting, 88 x 98 ; Photo by KEVA reserved Michigan State University Museum

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Lee’s Rose and Buds: Mary Schafer c 1972, Flushing, Genesee County, Michigan; Cotton with Polyester Batting, 81 x 100; Photo by KEVA, all rights reserved Michigan State University Museum

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What a legacy we quilt makers have!

Hillary

The Metro Tote Tutorial

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I love simple designs made with top notch materials.  I also love combining nontraditional materials together.  In this case I share a very simple tote design using thick felted wool along with leather handles and quilting cotton scraps.  There are so many other ways to experiment with this bag design and I hope those who try it take my instructions as a jumping off point to explore their own creativity.

One finished tote including handles, measures approximately 19 inches high, 12.5 inches wide and 4 inches deep.

Supplies

3 mm Felt ( I purchased mine from Aetna Felt  www.aetnafelt.com .  One 72” wide yard made 4 bags.  You can also use leather or 5 mm felt but both are much harder on a domestic machine)

2 thick leather pieces 18 x 1 ¼ inch for handles or two 18 inch premade handles (I demonstrate with some stitched 18 inch leather bag handles I made but plain leather will work perfectly well.  If you are intimidated by leather and rivets you can also use webbing as handles and sew them directly to the felt)

Exacto knife

Fabric Marker (I like Dritz Disappearing Ink pen)

Quilter’s Ruler

Rotary Cutter

Pieced block or textile that you want to feature on the bag in a reverse applique technique less then 9 1/2  x 9 1/2 inches (I have used paper piecing patterns, leftover quilt blocks, improv panels made from scraps.  The sky is the limit.)

Double sided fabric tape (optional)

Leather Hole Punch

Small Sized Rivets (If you are uncomfortable with rivet setting, screw in rivets are a nice alternative and if you chose to use 5mm thick wool, I recommend medium sized rivets)

Thread

Sewing Machine

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Step 1: Cut Out Your Pieces

Cut two pieces of Felt 12 ½ x 12 ½ inches (front and back pieces)

Cut one piece of Felt 36 x 4 inch (side piece)

Cut a piece of felt that is 1 inch larger on all sides then the cut out motif you plan for your front. (For example, if you choose to cut out a 6 inch circle in the front felt to show off a special paperpieced block then cut out a 7 inch felt circle. The front felt bag piece with the cut out motif, your chosen feature textile/block and this third felt piece will form  a sandwich that once finished will make the inside of the bag look more professional.)

Round the bottom corners of the front and back felt pieces.  (I used a 7 inch diameter circle but a round plate would work well too.)

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Step 2: Prepare your Front Felt Piece for Reverse Applique

Choose a cut out motif that you will use on you front felt piece (in this example, I used a 6×6 inch red cross sign) , mark with your marker and cut out with an Exacto knife. In previous iterations of this design, I have used a circle, rectangle, lightning bolt and a combination of shapes that will show off the piece I plan to show off in the reverse appliqué.  Let your imagination guide you.

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Once your motif is cut out in the felt, sandwich your block or textile between the front felt and the back extra felt piece centering them all as best you can.  You may use reversible tape to secure everything in place if needed.

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Stitch 1/8 inch around the reverse appliqué motif through all layers.

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Turn the whole piece to the back and trim away the extra fabric.

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Further secure them all together by stitching 1/4 inch again around the block                 through all three layers.

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Step 3: Sew the Bag Pieces Together

The seams on this bag are all to the outside and there are only two of them.  SO SIMPLE!

Wrong sides together, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew the front felt piece to the long side piece.  Trim any extra felt that is hanging off the top.  (Of note, I do not use clips or needles when sewing this first seam but just guide it as I go around the corners.  For the second upcoming seam I use a lot of clips)

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Wrong sides together and using a 1/4 seam allowance, sew the back felt piece to the side piece.

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Step 4: Attach the Handles

Using your hole punch, punch two holes along the horizontal bottom of each end of the handles about 1/4 inch in from sides and bottom.

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Set your ruler 2 ½ inches from the side and 1 ½ inch from the top.  Align your bag handle at the edge and mark the handle holes on the felt with your marker.

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Using you hole punch, punch holes at these marked sites and attach your handles to the bag with rivets.

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Congratulations On Your New Bag!

Tag me @entropyalwayswins on IG and use the hashtag #themetrotote so I can see your beauties.

Best!

Hillary

Easter Egg Pincushion Tutorial by Hillary Goodwin and Kitty Wilkin

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Recently Kitty (Night Quilter) and I had the opportunity to meet in person after following each other’s work online for years.  Both loving embroidery, repurposing textiles, creativity and the sewing community in general we plotted a tutorial that would allow us to play off each other’s creative personality and engage the greater sewing community as a whole.

A year ago I made an Easter Egg shaped pincushion out of velvet and repurposed leather.  We expanded on this idea and invite anyone who wants to participate to make a similar pincushion and, if interested, incorporate repurposed leather (Earth Day is coming up after all, and repurposed leather is typically thin enough to easily sew on a domestic sewing machine. Be bold. Be brave. Let’s sew leather!).

In this tutorial we give everyone some guidelines but the emphasis is PLAY and MAKING THIS PROJECT YOUR OWN.  Don’t celebrate Easter?  No biggie, make a similar pincushion in another shape.  We will be following on Instagram so please tag your makes #eastereggpincushion (as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins) so we can all enjoy.  To celebrate this group project we will both randomly be giving participants some of our own pincushions as well as supplies to make them. All you need to do to be eligible is to play along, tag us, and tag #eastereggpincushion so that we can find you!


Suggested Supplies

Thin leather (~6×12 inches)

Wool felt, velvet, jeans or any other material for the inner portion of the pincushion (~6×6 inches)

Embroidery hoop (a 4” hoop will *just* fit the inner egg)

Egg Pincushion Template (print HERE) (note updated the pdf 3/20/2017)

Embroidery thread (embroidery floss, perle cotton, or 12wt thread works. Use what you have!)

Embroidery or other needle (Kitty uses Tulip size 3 milliners)

Double sided fabric tape or fabric glue (optional)

Sewing machine with a walking foot

Leather sewing machine needle 

Thread (Kitty and Hillary used 40wt Aurifil thread)

Chalk or other removable marker 

Muslin or other scrap fabric (6×12 inches)

Craft clips (both Clover wonderclips or Evergreen Art Supply craft clips work great)

Small Funnel

Crushed Walnut shell or other favored pincushion fill

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Step 1: Templates and Leather

Print the Easter Egg Pincushion HERE and cut along both inner and outer egg outlines.

Trace the template onto the wrong side of the leather, marking out two eggs–one with only the outline and one with both the inner and outer lines drawn. Carefully cut along the marked lines, remembering to cut one piece along only the outer egg outline and cut the other piece along both the inner and outer egg outlines. Set your leather pieces aside.

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Step 2: Embroidery

Using chalk or water soluble marker, trace the inner egg outline onto on your embroidery surface (felt, velvet, jeans, etc) so you will know the limitations of your embroidery design.  Adorn at your heart’s desire with embroidery, applique, etc.  You are welcome to copy our experiments but please feel free to try your own ideas.

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Step 3: Attach the Embroidery to the Leather Upper

Align your embroidered material so that the embellishments fit within the window of your leather upper (the egg with the hole cut out of the middle). Secure the right side of your embroidery to the wrong side of your leather upper with double sided tape, glue, or other method. Then, using a ¼ or ⅛ inch seam allowance, top stitch the two together along the inner egg as shown. Thread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim. Finally, trim the seam allowance of your embroidered material carefully about ½” away from the stitched line so that it remains easily inside the outer margins of the egg.

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Step 4: Make an Inner Pincushion

Using only the outer margin of your Egg Template, trace and cut two pieces of muslin.  Sew the two pieces together using a ¼ inch seam allowance, leaving a small opening to use for filling.  Fill with crushed walnut shells (a funnel can be helpful for this).  One half cup of crushed walnut shells for this project seems to be the right amount. Use, a little more if you want a more rounded pincushion.  Sew closed the opening of the inner pincushion.

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Step 5: Finishing your Pincushion

Place the two leather egg pieces wrong sides together and secure with wonderclips. (Note that pinning will create visible holes in the leather–use clips!)  Sew around the outer margin of the egg using a ¼ seam allowance, leaving an opening at least 3 inches long unsewn.  Stuff your filled and fully closed inner pincushion through this opening.  Ensuring the inner pincushion remains entirely inside, top stitch the remaining way around the outer edge of the egg.  Thread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim or bury.

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Step 6: Share your creation with us!

Tag your pincushion on Instagram #eastereggpincushion as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins or link to the blog posts.   We can’t wait to see what you create! Enjoy!!

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