Thursday, January 26, 2017

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

On Belonging

As I was working on a quilt recently, my thoughts wandered to the topic of belonging. Belonging is on my mind since I am retired now and no longer belong to some of the work related groups I belonged to just a year ago.

As I continued to quilt, I reminisced about some of the groups to which I have belonged over the years: dance groups, music groups, faith-based organizations, a single women's group at one point in my life, volunteer groups, book clubs, and various work-related groups. My belonging to groups has seemed to ebb and flow through the years. Sometimes the group disbanded; sometimes I chose to leave the group because it no longer seemed to meet my needs. In some cases, with changes in leadership, the values and focus of the group changed so much that it no longer met my own values and focus. I have felt a sense of loss at times in the response to a change in my belonging to a specific group. At other times, I have been content to focus on individual friendships and relationships. As an introvert, there have been times that I have found it necessary to withdraw from groups for a bit to rejuvenate. (Click here to visit my friend's blog, Debbeithisandthat, to find more on introversion.)

Abraham Maslow.jpg
Abraham Maslow
Is it important to belong?  According to psychologist, Abraham Maslow, it is very important to belong. As a matter of fact, love and belonging are third on his hierarchy of needs, right after the first level of having one's basic needs met and safety on the second level. This eminent psychologist believes that the need for belonging must be satisfied before one can move on to higher levels of growth. (To read more about Maslow's work and his hierarchy of needs, click here.)

If we look at the big picture, we can certainly say that we all belong to the human race, and we are all citizens of our planet, Earth. As children, most of us belonged to a family and to a school. However, even though we technically might have belonged to a family unit or attended a specific school as children, our sense of belonging may have varied widely. Those differences can continue through our adult years. Within our culture there are names for not belonging: black sheep of the family, odd man out, the third wheel, etc. I have a premise that it's the sense of belonging that is much more important than the technical aspect of belonging. I can join a variety of organizations so that I "belong" to them, but I might experience a feeling or a sense of belonging to only a few.

Image result for pictures of Cheers the sitcom
Cheers on Beacon Hill, Boston, MA
I wonder what contributes to our sense of belonging. Is it enough for everybody to know my name? Or do we need deeper connections to gain that sense of belonging?  As the theme song to the old but popular sitcom, Cheers, implies, it may be that we feel comfortable in a situation where everybody knows our name. 

However, I believe we have a need to be seen, to be acknowledged, and to be heard as unique individuals within a group setting. Since I no longer belong to several work-related groups, what will take their place? I intend to be open to new opportunities to find that sense of belonging in a place where everybody knows my name, but also with connections that run deep with group members accepting, listening, and sharing their stories.

What about you? Where do you belong? What experiences have you had related to belonging? Please leave your comments.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Recap for 2016

Projects Large and Small for 2016

(No payment or compensation of any kind has been received for books. patterns, fabric names, or companies mentioned in this post. All writing/opinions are my own.)

One of the things I most enjoy is making gifts from fabric. At the beginning of each year, I begin to think about the special events that will happen throughout the year. And then I have fun thinking about what I might create to celebrate a certain event. This past year brought two retirements. First, my husband retired at the end of June from United Way. He worked there for over 19 years. It was certainly a time to celebrate. Then, in December, my dear friend and former colleague, Debbie, retired from public education. Her retirement was exactly one year after my own retirement, and I wanted to commemorate her years in education in a special way.

For my husband's retirement, I wanted to make a quilt that would honor his service to United Way and the community. I decided to make a t-shirt quilt from United Way t-shirts. With the assistance of some of his colleagues, I acquired the t-shirts, and then my dear friend and fellow quilter, Judy, taught me how to stabilize the t-shirts before sewing them into the quilt. This would be my first t-shirt quilt. 

For Debbie's retirement, I decided to make four mini-quilts--one for each season. I had taken a course in paper piecing, a technique in quilting where the stitching is done on paper with the fabric underneath. The quilter can't really see the fabric or the resulting pattern until the block is completed. I know that sounds crazy--a little like Ginger Rogers doing the same dance as Fred Astaire but backwards and in high heels! However, paper piecing is very precise and lots of fun. I found several patterns for 12" quilts using the paper piecing technique in the book, Little Gems: 15 Paper-Pieced Miniature Quilts by Connie Kauffmann. I altered several of the patterns to "fit" the fabric I had chosen. Through making these mini-quilts, I learned that I really enjoy making small quilts and that I absolutely love paper piecing. Debbie and her handy husband designed and built a quilt hanger for these four mini-quilts. Visit Debbie's blog here to view their lovely display of these quilts.


Spring Tranquility

Summer Blooms

Autumn Days

Another large project for 2016 was a football quilt for my son-in-law. He is an avid LSU football fan, and when I saw a quilt pattern using football blocks in a quilt shop early in the year, I knew right away that a football quilt would be his Christmas gift from me. LSU colors are purple and yellow so after finding brown and white fabric for the footballs, I looked for a variety of yellow and purple fabrics for the rest of the quilt.

Quilt pattern: Touchdown by Cluck Cluck Sew patterns

It is so much fun to sew for my five year old grandson! A friend of mine, Mimi, who is a creative genius, suggested that I make a pillowcase for my grandson to commemorate each holiday for a year. I finished that project a couple of years ago, but when I visit my grandson and we end up in a fabric store (Of course, we end up in a fabric store; I love fabric!), he will find fabric he likes (usually with a superhero theme), and he'll say, "Grandma, would you make me something from this fabric?" Now, how can a grandma resist that request? My main fabric gift to him this year was an advent calendar that I made from a fabric panel. I sewed pockets to the panel where I could hide small treats for the month of December.

Dear Santa Advent Calendar fabric panel by Studio E fabrics

Then there were the smaller projects for my grandson: a tooth fairy pillow and a padded Spiderman tote bag to protect his tablet as he carries it around.

I made a fabric basket for one of my daughters. I filled it with small gifts for Christmas, and hopefully she will be able to use it to hold other things in her home throughout the year.

For my younger daughter, I made a couple of pillowcases from medallion fabrics since she seems to like this type of fabric shown below.

So these are some of my sewing and quilting projects for 2016. What will I make in 2017? Stay tuned to find out!

Do you like to give or receive handmade gifts? Please leave a comment and share your experiences.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Stitching at Seven

A Very Short History of My Life in Sewing

Public Domain Image

Remember those troll dolls?  The ones with the fluffy, colorful, wild hair?  Well, at age seven, I was a fan of those troll dolls. However, I soon found out that the reason I liked them so much was because I could sew for them. I might have had the best dressed troll dolls around! 

Public Domain Image

Just like a quilter's stash of fabric, I had a stash of felt squares in every color imaginable. I cut out two pieces of the felt from a small pattern, and I used a whip stitch to join those two felt pieces into a one shoulder outfit for those trolls. This was my first experience sewing, and it certainly was a foreshadowing of the rest of my life's passion for fabric and sewing.

I kept sewing, and I graduated to making my own clothes as a teenager. Then, later in my life, when I had my own children, I sewed for them. Making their Halloween costumes was a favorite thing to do since it required more creativity than the average sewing project.

I made window treatments and home decor items, but it was only a few years ago that I followed a friend of mine into the world of quilting. Cutting out pieces of fabric and sewing them together in all kinds of different patterns challenges me and satisfies my need for creativity. 

What about you?  What type of creative outlet do you pursue?  Please leave a comment below and share your creative interests.