Introducing Leopold the Longarm

Leopold the Longarm, quite at home dominating my sewing room

Hello everyone!

As you may have seen on social media this weekend, I have some terribly exciting news! A generous quilter named Sally donated a Tin Lizzie 18 longarm to Quilts for Cure, and we picked it up and set it up on Saturday!

Close up of Leo with a practice piece/baby quilt loaded on the frame, ready for quilting

For those of you who don’t quilt, a long arm, sometimes called a “quilting machine,” is a large sewing machine set on a frame so as to quilt very efficiently. When quilting on a domestic (“normal”) sewing machine, you have to push and shove and scrunch the bulk of the quilt through the harp or throat (the space between the needle and the machine), and that slows things down a good bit (hence why I’m still quilting the #OperationSmiley quilts all these months later). With a longarm, the machine moves across the quilt, and it’s much faster.

Practicing stitches and motifs

This longarm, who I’m affectionately calling Leopold, is a game changer for Quilts for Cure. It will make it easier to complete quilts and get them out to kids in treatment. It will make it easier for me to test ideas for Quilt Alongs (like the one coming soon). And, if y’all are game, it might even give me the courage to tackle another #OperationSmiley next February.

Completed practice piece which will be a baby quilt for donation

I’ve been working hard on my machine quilting skills, so Sunday I put them through their paces to see how things translated into working on Leopold. I was so pleased with the results, that I’ve squared it up and will put a nice blue binding on it to make a baby boy quilt. Yesterday, I finished piecing #OperationSmiley quilt #8 and loaded it up. By george, I’m spoiled already– the whole thing was quilted in just an hour or so! I can’t wait to bind it, and get going on #9!

Operation Smiley Quilt #8

 

 

I hope y’all are as excited as I am! Thank you, Sally!!

ACTION ITEMS

  1. Make a Quilt to give to one of the 40,000 children in treatment for pediatric cancer in the United States
  2. Give money to Quilts for Cure so that we can make more quilts and contribute to research for a cure
  3. Spread the word with everyone you know about Quilts for Cure– share on your social media, with your quilt guild, etc.

Oh, and a quick update on Abri– Her family received the most marvelous news this weekend that she has NOT relapsed! It’s a bit complicated as to why the original test results were  misleading, but this is wonderful, wonderful news. As she is still facing several surgeries to repair her leg and replace the bone that Ewings Sarcoma destroyed, two fabulous quilters, Amy and Jen, are collaborating to make her a quilt to keep her cozy through the rest of her recovery.

More soon!

HollyAnne

Make Quilts!

#OperationSmiley Quilt 1

Hey Everyone!

I have a few quilty things to talk about today.

First, I finished the first #OperationSmiley quilt! I haven’t counted up all the blocks recently, but I’m confident we will make 10 quilts. I took the components of quilts 2 and 3 to Red Hen today where they will be completed by students. I have pieced the main part of quilt 4, and will add borders tomorrow. I hope that I will also get it sandwiched and basted so that I can get back to quilting a column each night– both for progress on the quilts and for regular free motion quilting practice.

Second, I’m am searching for a willing quilter who lives in or near North Carolina. I received a message from a grandmother this week requesting a quilt for her 15 year old grandson, Nicholas, with an inoperable brain tumor. I think a twin sized quilt (70 x 90 inches) would be just right. If you are interested, please email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org, and I’ll get you more info. Also, please help spread the word!!

Finally, don’t forget that Quilts for Cure is accepting completed quilts. You can find out more info on our Donate Quilts page, or email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org.

ACTION ITEMS:

1) Spread the word to help us find a quilter to make a twin sized quilt for Nicholas. If you’re interested, please email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org

2) Gather your orphan blocks, UFOs, and do some stash busting, and make a quilt for a child with cancer!

3) Tell your quilty friends and guild members about Quilts for Cure in person and on social media. Share this post!

Go gold,

HollyAnne

PS Kylie’s mama was on the Hallmark Channel this morning with their kitty Liza. Check it out HERE.

Operation Smiley, Update 2

The first completed #OperationSmiley quilt top

Hi again, Friends and Fighters!

We officially have too many #OperationSmiley quilt blocks for me to hang on my design wall. Last week, I had 91 hanging, but we’re at 129 and counting now! Over 30 quilters have participated from over a dozen states, and at least four of them are adult cancer survivors.

129 quilt blocks all in a stack. It’s a thick stack!

As you found out on Friday, we are benefitting from the generosity of several companies as well. In addition to the beautiful fabric from Fat Quarter Shop, we are receiving thread from Aurifil, some batting from The Warm Company, and more batting and fabric from Craftsy. On top of that, my friends over at Red Hen Fabrics are going to help me get all 7+ quilts quilted. Isn’t that exciting?!

This means a few things for #OperationSmiley:

1) We will be finishing these quilts with beautiful, top-of-the-line materials.

2) Instead of delivering finished quilts the end of this week in time for Kylie’s birthday, it will probably be another month until they are all done. Materials are still en route, and we will be completing more quilts than I expected (which is a thrilling thing).

3) I will try to have a completed quilt (see quilt top above) to take with me to Quilt Con in Savannah this weekend to show our sponsors and to spread the word about Quilts for Cure.

I cannot thank y’all enough for your generosity and support!!

90+ Heart Blocks on my Design Wall

Action Items:

1) Visit the Smiley for Kylie page this week and leave a Happy Birthday for Kylie. On Friday, be sure to wear yellow and #shareasmile in her honor.

2) Do the #TruckerToughChallenge on Facebook or Instagram to show support for sweet Trucker Dukes. He is in a lot of pain and needs our encouragement!

3) Make sure that you’re plugged in for all Quilts for Cure Updates: Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Instagram, and Sign up for our Newsletter (coming soon). Even better, invite your friends to get plugged in, too. Our mission to honor and encourage kids with cancer will only succeed if we all work together.

Keep fighting,

HollyAnne

Operation Smiley Update

My Friends,

Today (February 13th at writing) is important. Today marks two years since Smiley Kylie’s battle against metastatic bone cancer ended. She has been missed and loved every day that has passed.

Today is also important because I have an amazing update about #OperationSmiley— our maiden project here at Quilts for Cure, and a project that we created to celebrate Kylie’s 15th birthday on the 24th.

 

There are 82 hearts on the design wall in my sewing room right now– so many that it’s hard to photograph them properly! 82 hearts is over 4 quilts. And, if I’ve kept track correctly, there’s about 2 more quilts of blocks still en route. AMAZING. Thank you, dear quilters!!

This weekend and again today, I had the pleasure of stitching heart blocks with  about a dozen high schoolers. On Saturday, I met with three girls whom I love dearly, and we worked in pairs to make two blocks. Today, I went to their school for art club, and the students made five more blocks. Part of the way through the class one of the girls and I realized we knew each other– because she was a nature study student of mine in Kylie’s grade. What a special way to spend Kylie’s home-going-versary– with one of her friends.

Action Items:

    1) Make a heart. It’s not too late– the response to #OperationSmiley has been so breathtaking, that I suspect I’ll be finishing quilts into March. Furthermore, I’ll keep finishing heart blocks into quilts as long as the hearts keep coming.
    2) We need fabric and batting to finish the quilts (we have a thread sponsor who I will announce in due time). I’ve reached out to several companies, but if you have any connections within the quilting world that could donate supplies to meet this need, please ask them to email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org.
    3) Connect with us via social media– @quiltsforcure on Facebook and Instagram.
    Hugs to all,
    HollyAnne

Operation Smiley

Welcome to Quilts for Cure!

I (HollyAnne) will be posting over the next couple of weeks about exactly who we are and what we are doing, but, for now, let me give you an overview: We are a (soon to be) nonprofit that exists to raise awareness about childhood cancer, provide every child in the US being treated for cancer with a quilt, and to fundraise for CURE Childhood Cancer’s research programs so that kids can have safer, more effective treatments. In many ways, Quilts for Cure is a bridge and a network, connecting quilters with families who desperately need the encouragement and generosity I see and admire in the quilting community.

We have launched our first campaign: Operation Smiley. When I was in high school, I was teacher assistant to a beautiful girl named Kylie Myers (pictured above). Several years later, right about the time Hubster and I moved back to Atlanta after getting married, Kylie was diagnosed with bone cancer, the same bone cancer her best friend Bailey had just beaten. We didn’t know it then, but Kylie only had about 10 months left to make us all smile while on earth. She kept smiling through her fight, and when she struggled, the amazing Smiley for Kylie community smiled for her. Now, as Kylie’s 15th birthday arrives on February 24th, we are going to spread smiles in her honor to kids fighting cancer now.

Who: All quilters, aspiring quilters, crafty people, or anyone willing to give a bit of cutting and sewing a try

What: 10″ Cluck Cluck Sew Heart Blocks in white, navy, and/or yellow

When: In the mail by February 14th (Valentine’s Day)

Where: Mail your block(s) to: Quilts for Cure PO Box 1831 Duluth, GA 30096

Goal: I will assemble each 20 blocks into a 4×5 quilt top and complete as many as possible in time to take them down to CURE Childhood Cancer for Kylie’s birthday. CURE will distribute them to kids in treatment in Atlanta-area hospitals. How many quilts do you think we can make together?

Tag: @quiltsforcure #quiltsforcure #operationsmiley #morethan4 #curechildhoodcancer @stringandstory @smileyforkylie

As I planned this campaign, I started thinking:

What if someone doesn’t quilt but wants to participate? What if folks want their kids to get involved, but don’t have a sewing machine? What if a class of students wants to make a quilt together? Or a valentine’s party?

So, I reached out to Allison over at Cluck Cluck Sew and asked her permission to write a tutorial using her pattern, and she said YES! Yay!

HOW TO MAKE AN OPERATION SMILE HEART BLOCK WITH STUFF IN YOUR HOUSE:

Heart Block Materials

 

Materials:

2, 1/4 yard cuts of fabric (1/2 yard total; choose two of the following colors: yellow, navy, white; This should only cost $5-6, less if you use a coupon or catch a sale, and each pair of fabrics makes 2 heart blocks)

1 cereal/cracker box (at least 10.5×5.5 inches) per person

Ruler

Pencil

Pair of Scissors

Sewing Needles, thread, straight pins (if you don’t have a little mending kit, you can buy one as shown for about $5 when you buy your fabric)

Iron/ironing board (not shown; Please be careful when ironing; Parents, you may want to do the ironing steps for your kids, depending on their age)

Before you jump in, read all the way through the directions. It will be easier that way. 🙂

Step 1: Press your fabric. It will be wrinkly from being folded on the bolt at the store, and we want it nice and smooth.

 

Step 2: Make your templates. Use the ruler and pencil to make three shapes: 10.5 inches x 5.5 inches, 5.5 inches x 5.5 inches, and 2 inches x 2 inches. Cut them out.

 

Step 3: Trace the templates on your fabric using the pencil (a wooden pencil will be easier than mechanical). You need TWO 10.5×5.5″ rectangles, TWO 5.5×5.5 inch squares, and FOUR 2×2 inch squares. Trace the rectangles on a DIFFERENT color than the squares. Cut out your shapes.

 

Step 4: Lay pieces right sides (the darker colored sides) together as shown. It’s hard to tell with the white, but the FRONT of the rectangles is face-up, and the BACK of the squares is face-up, so the fronts are touching. This is probably the trickiest step because it’s counterintuitive.

 

Step 5: Use the ruler and pencil to draw your stitching lines corner to corner on the squares as shown. Pin pieces together so they don’t move around while you sew. You can see the heart shape start to emerge.

 

Step 6: Sew along the pencil lines. Try to keep your stitches small (about 1/8th – 1/4th of an inch) so that they stay secure. Knot your thread before you cut it at the end, too. As you get going, you can put several stitches on the needle at a time before you pull your thread thru, as I did here.

 

Step 7: Trim away excess fabric 1/4 inch from the OUTSIDE of your stitching. 

 

Step 8: Use the iron to gently press your fabric open so all right (front) sides are facing up, as shown. 

Step 9: Repeat Steps 6, 7, and 8 with the other half of your heart block. 

 

Step 10: Lay the two halves of your heart blocks right (front) sides together, draw a 1/4 inch sewing line as before, and pin along the center of the heart as shown. Be extra careful to line up the top heart point, where I’ve drawn an arrow. 

Step 11: Stitch along the drawn sewing line. 

 

Step 12: Use the iron to press the block flat with the seam to one side as shown. Ta da! You did it!

Isn’t that fun? It doesn’t take long at all, costs very little money, and you, my friend, are contributing to making a child with cancer (and his or her parents) smile and feel loved. If you like, include your name and social media handle in a note when you mail me your block(s), and I’ll tag you in pictures of the final quilt!

Remember, Valentine’s Day is coming, and I think this would be a fabulous party/event craft for upper elementary or middle school kids. If you’re worried about the time it might take, you could cut and pin the fabric ahead of time, and just have them sew along the lines. If you send a group of blocks from an event, mention that in a note, and I’ll be sure to include them all in the same quilt, so they can see the finished product after it’s quilted! A few blocks would also make a lovely family service project one evening or weekend. About 16,000 kids are diagnosed in the US each year, and about 40,000 are in treatment– I think it’s so special that your kids could help these kids feel encouraged.

Last but not least, I’d like to announce the launch of the Quilts for Cure Newsletter, Facebook and Instagram accounts! Please sign up, like, and follow us to stay up to date on this project and others to follow. There are 1000x as many quilters in this country as kids that will be diagnosed with cancer this year. That’s truly a village for every child, so let’s work together to be that village of encouragers!

Thank you for joining forces with us to pursue Kylie’s vision: “For cancer to die, and not the kids.” And until cancer dies, we are going to love and cheer on these kids!

Love,

HollyAnne