Our Whole Life

Mom and Dad were married on August 2, 1952, on a very hot day, in an un-air-conditioned church in St. Charles, MO. Legend has it that Mom’s veil caught fire from a candle during the photography or reception (I don’t remember; I wasn’t there!)

Marvin and Gloria 8-2-52

For their 50th wedding anniversary, in 2002, I made them a photo-transfer memory quilt.

anniversary quilt

I used ideas from the book The Collectibles Quilt by Wendy Etzel, 1995, RCW. The book got me started with the idea of a photo transfer bookcase quilt, and I took off from there. (Wendy still has copies of her book available; you can contact her at wendyetzel@verizon.net . The exact pattern for this quilt is not in the book.)

This was the second real quilt I ever made. The first was My Texas Star, half a year earlier. I think this was also the second time I tried free-motion quilting!

I managed to get photos of 5 generations of family, and made enough photo transfers to create 52 “framed” photos on the bookshelves, including my parent’s wedding picture and their wedding invitation.

Our Whole Life detail 3

The titles of some of the “books” are the names of my grandparents, my parents, my sister and me, and our children. Other “books” are titled with significant events or interests in our lives.

Our Whole Life detail 2Our Whole Life detail 1

I added a machine-embroidered a Peace rose (I don’t have a close-up of that) which was my maternal grandmother’s favorite flower, and created a basket made from woven strips of fabric, with a piece of crocheted work spilling out of it. This was made by my father’s aunt, who was born deaf, but crocheted exquisitely.

Our whole Life detail 4

(I didn’t cut up a good piece of crochet work; this was damaged, and I used the un-damaged part in the quilt.)

When they saw the quilt, Mom and Dad were both speechless and teary-eyed, and my father said, “This is my whole life!”

The quilt was hung next to some real bookcases, and causes visitors to do a double-take! It has been the backdrop for many family photos.

Sean 21bday and Annie 018 Sean 21bday and Annie 016Bird family

Yes, that’s a papier-mâché-and-feather bird head, but that’s another story…

The quilt was displayed at Dad’s memorial service. I think it’s just about the best gift I ever gave!


A Delightful Vacation!

Annie and I returned from Arrowmont on Saturday. We had a blast! It was everything I’d hoped for – relaxation, gorgeous surroundings, and most especially, time with my daughter.

Because this blog is about “Stitching My Life Together,” I wasn’t sure how to give a report on this trip, because it doesn’t involve sewing. But, read on to the end to see how stitches figure in!

Our vacation started the way many do, with flight delays – ugh! I was to take a short flight, meet up with Annie at O’Hare, then we could continue together. But my flight was delayed, and I missed her by just a few minutes. Then I waited at O’Hare, and she waited at Knoxville, for about four hours, until I finally got the next flight and met up with her.


We had great memories of a pizza place in Gatlinburg which we’ve visited on our previous trips there. After getting our rental car, and following a very roundabout way from Knoxville to Gatlinburg (thanks, GPS!) we got to the pizza place about 10:30PM and had our pizza! There was lots leftover, and being unwilling to toss such yummy food, we bought a little cooler and some ice (not to mention some beer and hard cider!)

The next day we drove up into Smoky Mountain National Park and enjoyed our pizza picnic on a lovely rock table.


Near our picnic was a convocation of butterflies! They were completely unconcerned about our presence, and we were able to get close enough to touch them! How wondrous!


It’s so beautiful in the park, and it was a perfect day.

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We started our woodturning class in the evening. Annie had done a bit of lathe work before, but I was a complete beginner. I’ll probably never do it again, but it’s fun to try new things, and taking a class together is a wonderful way to spend time with someone you love.


We progressed well, with lots of laughter and lots of wood chips. On Thursday, on my third try, I finally managed to make a bowl. (It’s green wood, so it will crack and warp, but it was fun to make.)


And then, Friday, the last day. I had finished my bark-edged bowl, and gotten it nice and thin. I was trying to chisel off the little knob on the underside, and oops! The chisel slipped in my inexperienced hands (this is where the stitching comes in!) So, instead of turning the final project, which was to be a nice cherry wood plate, Annie fought the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge traffic to take me to a clinic to get my hand stitched together. The cut wasn’t very long, but it bled and bled, and had to be cauterized. Fortunately, I cut no important parts, and four little stitches took care of it. I did have a nice big bandage for my travels home!


All is well. It hardly hurts at all, although my wrist and thumb are nicely colorful. I’ll get the stitches out on Saturday, and I’ll start my next adventure on Sunday, which will also involve stitching (but I hope not this kind!)

This morning, I thought about how amazing our bodies are… I can stitch two pieces of fabric together, and they can stay like that for 100 years without the fabrics growing together. But take two edges of a cut, stitch them together, and a week later, they have joined and grown together. The world is full of wonder!


My daughter and I will soon be going to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts to take a week-long workshop together. Arrowmont is a lovely old crafts school nestled in the Smoky Mountains, hidden just off the beaten path in Gatlinburg, TN. This will be my fifth visit there.

The first time, in 2004, I think, Annie and I took a class in glass fusing. What a wonderful time we had! The next year, she and I tried enameling.

Two years later, in 2007, David joined us, and we took a class in woodworking. It was a blast! Learning something new with grown children, focusing on the task at hand, in beautiful surroundings – well, I highly recommend it!

This is the coffee table David made. After he got home, he finished it, and it was one of his most prized possessions. When everything else in his life fell apart, this was one of the few things he took great care of. It is now in Annie’s living room, and she cherishes it.


This was Annie’s wild and crazy table! She included every technique we were taught 🙂 Unfortunately, it sustained some water damage in a closet and had to be discarded.


And this is what I made. It was supposed to have a quilt made to go behind the wavy lattice, but that hasn’t happened, and the table is still unfinished.


The surroundings are so gorgeous! The entrance to Great Smoky Mountain National Park is just a couple of miles away, and there is a little scenic drive even closer.

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In 2008, Annie couldn’t make it, and David and I took a workshop in bead-making. Hot glass and torches. These are some of the beads he made.


Because they needed to cool overnight in the kiln when we left, the instructor shipped them to us. Sadly, they never made it here. I wish so much I had some of his Arrowmont beads! Aren’t they beautiful?

David had taught himself some lampworking before we went, and fortunately Annie and I do have some of the beads he made at home. She made me a pendant with one of those beads (but of course I can’t find the photo right now!)

I made some beads, too. So what did I do when I brought mine home? Added fabric, of course! I made a quilt. This is “Monochrome.”


It is 45.5″ x 60″ and was made in 2009. It is truly a mixed techniques quilt! It includes English hand smocking (because I needed some hand work to do while my husband was in the hospital for a week), fabric manipulation (inspired from a costume in the stage production of “Phantom of the Opera”), foundation piecing, machine applique, digitized embroidered motifs and free-standing lace. And glass beads above the tassels! It includes cottons, necktie silk, machine embroidery, monofilament, and silk threads, perle cotton, seed beads, glass, purchased tassels, and cotton batting.  Embroidery designs were from EmbroideryOnline, Zundt Designs, and Martha Pullen/Zundt.

“Monochrome” won 2nd place in the Computer-Aided Machine Embroidery category at the 2010 Houston Internation Quilt Festival, and an Honorable Mention at the 2010 AQS show in Paducah.

Here’s a close-up…


And the beads (click on these images to see them better)…

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Now, it’s been seven years since I’ve been there. Annie and I will be learning about wood-turning. She’s done some, but I never have. If previous years are any indication, it will be a fun, memorable, relaxing, and creativity-inspiring week!