Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vacation and Move Update

Hi Everyone,

I know I've been away for a while.  We left on July 5 for a vacation.  We got to spend a couple days with our daughter in Indianapolis along the way.  It was so great to see her!  We went to the zoo and then out for dinner.

She also bought her first new car with my husband along to advise.  She really didn't need him too much, though.  I was impressed that she stood her ground on the amount that she wanted to pay!  While they were doing that, I went to a new-to-me quilt shop in the Indy area.  I decided to collect the license plates and row patterns for the Row by Row Experience. 
I also visited several shops in Michigan when we got there.  I was trying really hard not to buy anything else, although I wasn't totally successful!

After we left our daughter, we drove up to my parent's house in SW Michigan.  We had a couple days there before we journeyed up north for a family vacation on the Upper Peninsula
and northern Michigan.  The occasion was my parent's 40th anniversary.  To celebrate, they wanted to have a trip with my sisters, our husbands, and themselves, so we joined in and my younger sister, her husband, and my baby nephew, and my older sister and her husband from California.  It was lots of fun and was reminiscent of our vacations back in the seventies.

The Mackinaw City Lighthouse

The Mackinaw Bridge from Michigan to the Upper Peninsula.  It is a 5 mile-long suspension bridge.

The first few nights we were on the UP and stayed in these cabins.  They were really charming with a vintage feel.  They are designed to look like a wild west town or something.  My parents had the "school house" as it had a kitchenette.  We stayed in the fake "general store" although I would have preferred the "fort" cabin.  It had bunk beds, though.  

This was as close to camping/roughing it as we get!  We had indoor bathrooms and beds, but ate out on a picnic table and grilled hot dogs, etc.

The first full day was Anniversary Day.  The plan was to take the ferry over to Mackinac Island.  First, we had to take pictures, and my Mom requested that we all dress in Red, White, and/or Blue.

The Happy Couple

Our clothes really helped define us as a group on our ferry trip.  More than one person inquired what we were all about!

The ferry took us under the bridge. 

Mackinac Island is home to the famous Grand Hotel.  Have you seen the movie "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour?  It was filmed there.  Also, there are no motor vehicles other than rescue vehicles allowed on the island.  You walk, bike, or take a horse-drawn carriage.  We took a carriage tour of the island to get an over view.  Later, when some of the others went to tour the Grand Hotel, my Mom, husband, and I stayed with baby Matthew.  

Here he is, by the way.  I probably took more pictures of him than anything else!  Anyway, he was napping away in his stroller when my husband's cell phone rang.

It was the company where he had traveled to for an interview.  They were offering him the job!!!!!!!  
We will be moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  It is where my younger sister lives, and is two hours or so from both my parents and daughter!  It is so wonderful to finally have a plan!

There is lots more to share, but for now I need to go.  We are back home and the packers are coming any minute!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Independence" Day

Hi Everyone,

I'll be back tomorrow with a July 4 post, but today was a momentous day for our family so I wanted to share.

It was my husband's last day in uniform.  

He will begin terminal leave on Saturday and that goes until the end of September.  The last day of September will be his final day in the Army.

He first enlisted during the fall of his senior year in high school.  The year was 1983--over 30 years ago.

He graduated and left for basic training.  This was all well before I knew him!  He finished basic training and AIT (the course where you learn your "job"--in his case, he was a light vehicle/power generator mechanic.  He had been promised duty in Germany, but decided to go to Airborne school instead, in order to jump out of airplanes.
This is his Airborne school picture.  He was 18 and looks like a child!  
(By the way, he still has that piece of tape with his number on it)

 Instead of Germany, he was assigned to a unit at Fort Bragg.  Part of his duties there included being the driver for his Lieutenant, and that made him think that the Lieutenant wasn't so different than he was, why couldn't he be one, too?  So when his 2-year enlistment was up, he took his GI benefits and went to college.   He stayed in the National Guards and was in ROTC.  He actually was wearing his ROTC uniform when I met him.
Commissioning--with our daughter.

After graduation, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the US Army.  Each officer is assigned a branch--infantry, cavalry, military intelligence, etc.  He wanted the Signal corps--they are in charge of communication.  He had majored in Electronic Engineering Technology/Communication but that is no guarantee in the army.  (We had a neighbor once who was from San Antonio--home of a huge Army hospital--with a degree in medical services who joined and requested the medical corps.  He got Signal.)  Luckily for my husband, though, he was assigned to the Signal Corps, so a few months later we packed up and moved to Fort Gordon, Augusta, GA--home of the Signal Corps--so he could attend the Signal Officer Basic Course--and our Army life was underway!  It was the spring and summer of 1990.  The week before he graduated, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.  He already knew that his first assignment was with the First Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, TX, and before long, we heard that the division was deploying.  Welcome to the Army!  He had a follow-on course and by the time we arrived at Hood, his unit had already left.  He had about 2 weeks for us to move in and for him to prepare to deploy and then he was gone.  The war was over quickly, though, and he was back safe 6 months later.
Fort Huachuca circa 1997

 Since then, we returned to Gordon for the Advanced Officer Course, then he spent a year unaccompanied in Korea--he was assigned to Camp Greaves which was right on the border with North Korea--they could see the North Korean flag.  After that, we lived at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, returned to Fort Gordon so he could be an instructor for the Advanced Course,  and then Fort Bliss (El Paso) Texas.  We were living there when the terror attack of September 11 occurred.  At the time he was the Signal Officer assigned to a Patriot Missile Brigade.  Over our Christmas leave he found out they were deploying to Kuwait.  They left in January and the Iraq War began in March.  His brigade was responsible for shooting down the few missiles that Iraq launched.  While he was safe, part of his unit was not--the 507th Maintenance Company  was attacked, resulting in the deaths of 11 soldiers and the capture of Jessica Lynch and 5 others.  I think the lowest day of my Army life was the day I attended the memorial service for those soldiers.  Have you ever attended one?  Part of the ceremony involves a Sergeant calling roll.  Their names were called, and the silence of no answer in return had a finality that broke my heart and can still bring tears.

When he returned, we almost immediately moved to Fort Richardson, Alaska--where we were living when our daughter graduated from high school and left for college.  Fort Leavenworth, KS, and then Fort Shafter, Hawaii were our remaining duty stations before here:  Fort Eustis, VA.  While in Hawaii, my husband was deployed to Afghanistan.  Again he was fairly safe--remaining on a camp adjacent to the Kabul airport for the entire deployment.  Thus he is a Veteran of not one, but three different wars.

Today at lunch we were talking.  We agreed that we feel two things:  the first is that a heavy weight is being lifted off our shoulders.  No more can anyone else command the way we live our lives--no more separations/deployments, no more moves, etc.  The second feeling is that of have a safety net moved out from under us--no matter what the army threw at us, we always knew we would have a place to live, and that the paycheck would arrive.  While the feeling is overall bittersweet, I think we are both ready for this chapter of our lives to close, and for a new one to begin.

Have a great day,

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Blogger Girl's Block of the Month--The Big Reveal!

Hi Everyone,

I'm so excited about today because it is the day that we get to see everyone's finished quilts!   I loved this quilt from when I first saw the diagram and Monique asked me to join in.  Then, when I saw the photos of the yet to be released "Grant Park" fabric line from Moda, I knew it would be perfect for the quilt.

I started having some doubts as the months went by and I was making the blocks.

I felt like the background fabric I had chosen was a bit too busy.   However, I had faith in my vision, and kept going.

I was not disappointed!!  You see, the plan was to use the small pattern as block background, the medium pattern in the alternate blocks, and then the fancy, large stripe pattern as the border.

Here is the medium print in the alternate block.

I finished all of the monthly blocks easily, and next went on to churn out the alternate blocks assembly-line style.  Once I had them all finished, it was time to sew them together.  I think this was the most difficult part of the entire quilt!  You see, you have angles coming from different directions, yet they must match up perfectly.  Nothing nestles.

These are the two blocks butted next to each other.  Can you tell how the red must be sewn exactly right to get it to match up? 

The seam running from the top to the bottom in this picture is the pertinent one.  You can see that the red matches pretty well.  I thought I took a picture of a bad match, but I don't see it.

 I pinned carefully, but that didn't always help.  After struggling and ripping and resewing the first pair, I decided to baste them all by machine first.  Then I could easily rip out the areas that didn't match, pin again, and then sew the entire seam over again with a standard stitch.  This process took a bit longer, but was much easier in the end--and my angles and corners all matched up.

Once I had the center of the quilt together, the next step was the inner border.  I had gotten excited about the project and was getting ahead.  Monique hadn't sent us the finishing directions yet, but I thought as it was just borders and not too difficult, I could continue with confidence.  As I looked at the computer drawing of the quilt to decide how wide I wanted my borders, I had an idea to alter things a bit.  Monique used a narrow inner border all around the quilt.  I decided that I could extend, or finish, the pattern from the center of the quilt if I broke up the inner border with flying geese.  So I proceeded.  I wrote down all of the measurements, etc., but I've lost them in the move chaos.  I can't remeasure everything, either, since it is away being quilted.  If you are interested in the measurements, and can't figure them out on your own, let me know and I will email you later when I have the quilt again.  I do know that my inner border was not the same width as Monique's.  

So in the photo above, you can see how the flying goose unit (on the left) completes the look of the block being on point.

Since my main border fabric had a large strip running down the length of the fabric, I fussy-cut my border strips so that they were all identical.  They got sewn on and then the final narrow red border.  



My vision of the small, medium, and large light prints is realized!  And I love this quilt!!!

I love that it is fresh and light!  It is the most delicate, pretty, patriotic quilt I've ever made.

I can't wait to see the other versions.  You can see them here:

Monique at Open Gate Quilts
Sherri at A Quilting Life
Lissa from Moda Lissa
Denise from Quilter's Window
Jodi from Pleasant Home

I have seen other versions on other blogs and on Instagram.  I would love to see yours, if you are working on one, too.  You can email me at patrioticquilter@gmail.com

Have a great day!