Mpressive Threadz Studio Blog

Sharing my love of sewing

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Happy New Year!

happy new yearOnly hours remain before the year is done.  It’s been a year of ups and downs, joy and pain.  But each year is like that.  I do know that this year has been filled with much more laughter than tears, and that’s a good thing.

Happy New Year!  I wish you all health and happiness in 2013.


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The Family Tree Quilt

family tree quilt

Yesterday, I saw a posting by a cousin announcing the birth of his grandson.  He boasted about there now being four generations of men in his family that were alive.  That announcement made me think about the family tree quilt.

This year my mother’s side of the family had a family reunion.  I made a family tree quilt that was part of our opening night activities.  I started the quilt during a week I spent in South Carolina and it was a conversation starter.  Each branch of the tree is embroidered with the name of one of my great grandfather’s children.  Yes, there were 15 children so this tree has 15 branches! I tried to put the branches in birth order, but that posed a problem.  No one knew the birth order for two of the children who had died during their childhood.  All those who might know the birth order had passed away.  All that is known is that one had died falling off a wagon.  Although the branches are not in the proper order, the appearance of their names on this quilt signifies that they did exist.

At the reunion each member in attendance wrote their first name and birth year on a green piece of fabric.  The piece of fabric was then cut into a leaf shape and tacked on the quilt on the appropriate branch of the family.  It was an exciting activity!  Leaves were created for members who couldn’t attend.  Young teen cousins cut the precious green leaves.  My elderly aunts and other cousins helped me tack the leaves to the quilt.  My favorite moment was looking over and watching my first cousins with their nieces meticulously arrange their family leaves around my deceased aunt’s leaf and tack them on the branch belonging to my grandmother.

This quilt has triggered so many conversations, bringing forth so much family history in hilarious stories and sad stories.  I cut 200 scraps of fabric for the reunion and we ran out of leaves!  It was so important to those at the reunion to create leaves for their family members who couldn’t attend or who had passed away.  I will be having conversations over the next year with cousins to make sure to create a leave for each family member.  Some branches on the quilt will be bare.  One of my great aunts did not have any children of her own, but she helped to raise many nieces, nephews, and great nieces and great nephews.   We all adored her, so her bare branch does not represents emptiness because her life was filled with love.

My last remaining great aunt will be the keeper of the family tree quilt.  We have so many leaves to add to the quilt and I will take time to quilt the layers together.  Although I constructed the quilt by machine, I am thinking about actually doing the quilting by hand because that is the way my grandmother did it.  We have a family reunion every two years and the quilt will appear at each reunion so that new leaves for the babies born since the last reunion can be added.  A new family tradition!

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Continuing to Live in the Moment

A cousin’s wedding (Hurricane Irene cancelled the original date). Thanksgiving at my nephew’s house. The death of a grand-niece. A new haircut. The death of a young cousin. A surprise birthday party for my husband. A new granddaughter. Visiting with my aunts and uncles. The death of my last great-uncle. High school and college graduations. Our annual backyard barbeque (during a power outage). A family tree quilt for the family reunion. A large family reunion (110 people) in South Carolina. My last child is now a college freshman. A surprise 30th birthday gathering for a niece. Plenty of family dinners. A lot of business traveling. A new client to design and sew for. Living in the moments.

When I have something to say, I say it. When I have nothing I want to say, I am silent. I haven’t had much I’ve wanted to say about sewing because sewing has been such a tiny part of my last year and a half. Rarely one of the moments in my current life. Now I have things I want to share. I have been inspired by a number of young women with an interest in sewing.

It’s nice to be back.

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Moments and Blessings

I haven’t posted in a long time.  I’ve thought out postings, but haven’t been motivated to write them.  At first I felt a little guilty about it; now I don’t.  I haven’t lost my sewing mojo; I just haven’t felt the need to blog.  I’ve been sewing, doing other things and enjoying life.

  • January – It’s a new year and my birthday month.  Reflection time.  What do I want to change and what do I want to remain the same in my life?
  • February – An extended weekend with my girlfriends in Vegas.  Enough said.
  • March – I make a black lightweight wool dress for myself.  I guide Kira through the construction of a prom dress for the daughter of a close friend of hers.  Can you believe it, she’s making prom dresses!  A long conference in Washington, DC brings many of my team members to my area and I enjoy the time.  One manager leaves, another is onboard, I reread “Who Moved My Cheese” and I am ready for the change. A business trip to Chicago to close out the month.
  • April – Spending time with my girlfriends; either dinner or a party.  In the middle of the month, a business trip to Jacksonville.  Time to bake and decorate the annual birthday cake for the young daughter of one of my girlfriends.  This year she wanted Phineas and Ferb on her cake. WHAT?! WHO?!  Rounding out the month with Easter dinner at my house.  How did we wind up having a large dinner? A nephew calling looking for dinner, a niece in town for an alumni gathering, a cousin texting “Happy Easter” after learning from my niece that my husband and I are cooking, another niece get informed by the nephew, my sewing student looking for her favorite cookies.  I laughed at them all and enjoy the time. I closed out the month donating the gowns Kira and I made to a project called Operation Pretty and Polished, which gives away gowns and tuxedos to prom-goers.  I also did alterations on site during the giveaway.  There were a couple of gowns that I couldn’t alter that day because they were not quick alterations, so I did them in my studio after the giveaway.  One of the gowns was a strapless gown with a ruched bodice, draped skirt and beading.  When I opened the gown to alter it, I was fascinated by the construction.  This was not an off-the-rack, ready-to-wear gown.  I am in the Washington, DC metro area, so a lot of the donated clothing was first-rate!
  • May – I finished the prom dress for D, the daughter of one of my girlfriends.  It’s amusing how a girl starts out wanting to be a Goth princess for prom, which we (mother, grandmother and I) temper through persuasion, and evolves to a full-fledge princess with a tiara and a girly-girly evening purse on prom night.  Prom night for D meant festivities for everyone else.  It was a party for us, food and drinks, while she got ready to make her grand entrance.  I am sure her date did not expect that many people when he arrived.  FUN!  My first Mother’s Day with two children away and one at home.  Very soon they will all be off on their own and Mother’s Day will be phone calls.  My daughter’s home from her freshman year in college. I make a yellow lightweight wool dress with a pleated skirt for myself. I take my daughter and one of her friends to New York with me to attend the first alumni fashion show at my high school, the High School of Fashion Industries.  I saw classmates I haven’t seen since we graduated.  I look forward to next year’s event, and I am thinking about showing a couple of pieces. We’ll see.  I close out the month with a business trip to Jacksonville.
  • June – A week-long conference in San Diego, and I am one of the meeting planners, which means LONG days on top of a three-hour time difference for my body to deal with.  My sewing room gets a new paint color, light gray, and new lighting. I make the wedding gown for the future daughter-in-law of one of my friends.   I closed out the month with my huge annual BBQ.  I love it!  I have a large extended family and this year cousins from Atlanta and South Carolina came for the first time.  This was the first time a set of cousins that always come couldn’t make it due to a graduation, but it was also the first time other cousins from New York were able to come.  The first year the BBQ turns into a sleepover for my daughter and a few of her friends.  The first year my teenage son actually invites a few of his friends.  On top of that, a friend from work came with a surprise; another team member who I haven’t seen in years!  For me, the best picture of the day is a shot of my daughter, son, nieces and nephews on my husband’s side of the family.  I love that picture!
  • July – I altered a skirt for a customer who learned about me from her daughter who helped at Operation Pretty and Polished.  Word of mouth in action.  My youngest son now has a driver’s license and his first job.  Car insurance rises.  I make a couple of two-piece knit dresses for myself.  A weekend get-away in Washington, DC with some girlfriends.  We stop for a dinner party at my nephew’s before a night on the town.  It’s nice to be in a location where you can have a fun and relaxing get-away that close to home. 

 Time passes quickly; made up of a million moments and a million blessings.  My silence doesn’t mean I am not sewing.  I am just embracing the moments and the blessings.