Summer Secret Sewing

Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, is about to embark on a secret sewing mission

Say that three times!

What a great start to summer! So what is “secret sewing,” you ask? Quite frankly a new experience for me – after all, I am The Quilt Rambler, not the keeper of quilt secrets! Do you realize just how hard this has been for me trying to keep things under wraps for the past 12 days!

After coming off a busy graduation t-shirt quilt season (with the last one picked up June 2nd before the June 3rd graduation) you may have seen this on social media posted June 2:

Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, is about to embark on a secret sewing mission
Shh! It’s Secret Sewing time with The Quilt Rambler

“Shh!! It’s a secret! Actually, I’m working on THREE secret quilting projects right now that all due within the next 10 days. Two I can’t share until Fall Market, the third is super top secret but if it works out I will be able to share in a few weeks. I’m going to be a secret agent and bury myself in fabric…duty calls!”

Secret Sewing Project Number 1

June 2 to June 5

Secret Sewing - all I can show is the trimmings
All that’s left to show is the trimmings – fabric line Coastal Mist by Island Batik

This one kinda snuck up on me with a fast approaching deadline. All I can say is it’s an application to something BIG if it all comes to pass. If not, it was a learning experience and I’ll try again another time. But the pressure was on! Choose fabric – no brainer, I picked Island Batik’s collection Coastal Mist. Measure twice, cut one. Sew sew sew – actually 3 days of sew sew sew, had to do my best work!

Piecing secret sewing quilt blocks
Probably could have shown the fabrics because that wasn’t the secret, can you guess what units I’m piecing?

Then shipped off to meet the deadline.

I can hardly wait to hear the results. And yes, I will share the results one way or another…I’ve also got plans to repurpose the project “one way or another”… Hopefully, by the end of July, I will be able to reveal this adventure. I can hardly wait!! It’s so hard not to talk about this!

 

 

Secret sewing is mailed to a top secret location
After an intense weekend of secret sewing, the project is mailed off to a Top Secret location

Secret Sewing Project Number 2

June 5 to June 6

This project is an original design pattern that was submitted to Island Batik to showcase one of their upcoming fabric collections that will be introduced the end of October at the Houston Fall  Market – a tradeshow for the quilt industry where buyers come to see the latest trends, new notions and of course new fabric!! Orders are placed for fabrics to ship in the spring….

This one is especially hard to not ramble about, even harder not to share photos! But that’s the surprise! The fabric!! Okay, and the design…it’s a new one too.

Oliso Iron stops working, but a replacement is soon to come
Rest in Peace my dear Oliso – you were the best iron I ever had!

One little sad frustration while working on this project is that my Oliso iron died. I was pressing all the little parts and pieces as I was sewing and I smelt something burning – evidently, the heating element must have burnt out. Sigh. Backup travel irons don’t compare but I am thankful to report that Oliso has a repair/replace option and I am shipping off the deceased iron today and eagerly awaiting another one. Best iron I’ve ever owned!

Secret Sewing Project Number 3

June 7+

Thank goodness this project was just a wall hanging! Whew! Pieced in one (long) day!  Last stitch 1:30 AM June 8th. And yes, it’s another Fall Market fabric line for Island Batik.

Oh, how I wish I could show you this one! The fabrics are MY colors – that might be too much of a hint, but I can tell you I can’t wait to purchase fabric from this line when it comes out the first of next year!

Let The Quilting Begin

June 8 to June 12

Okay, I did take Sunday off! But I still pulled some after midnight quilting. I couldn’t help myself – I got really caught up in the quilting. Project Number 2 was custom quilted with a little bit of ruler work.  According to my stitch counter, this tasty morsel had 136,285 stitches with four thread color changes.

Here’s a legal sneak peak of the backing showing just a tad of the quilting. It’s “legal” because the backing is from a current line introduced at Spring Market called Seas The Day shipping soon to quilt shops.

Close up of backing fabric from secret sewing project
Backing showing custom quilting of Secret Sewing Project #2
Stitch counter on secret sewing project 3
I love it that my A1 Quilting Machine has a stitch counter. That’s a lot of thread!

I really got into the quilting on Project Number 3, even though it was much smaller it had oh so much higher stitch count, with only two thread color changes. I played a lot with ruler work! A lot!

I thought it was fun that the Island Batik backing, from the basics line, was called Rainbow and that I used Superior Threads Rainbows thread to quilt it in a colorway called Carnival (more hints of the fun fabric colors on top!). As you can see – I cut it sorta close on running out of thread!

Superior Threads used on secret sewing project
Sneak peak of the backing and custom quilting on Project #3 Don’t you just love Superior Threads!

Binding, Photos, and Off to the Post Office

June 13 to today, June 14

Binding threads on secret sewing project
Always the right color thread for binding with Superior Threads Masterpiece bobbin collection

I’ve been doing a lot of machine binding lately, attaching the binding on both sides with the sewing machine, but these beauties deserved a little hand sewn binding love. I just love how my “donut” of MasterPiece threads by Superior Threads offers any and all colors I need to match my binding!

And no, that beautiful stripe orange is not a give-a-way of the secret fall fabric collection – that’s my hanging sleeve made from Island Batik fabric in my stash. You thought I slipped up and let out a secret, didn’t you?

Naturally, I had to have photos taken to document the quilts before shipping them off to Island Batik….that way I can blog about them this fall! Don’t you want to see all the close-up details? Oh, I can hardly wait to show them to you.

I asked for special permission to share this next photo with you – that’s why it’s in black and white, to protect the big reveal of the fabulous colors in Project Number 3….but I couldn’t resist this photo taken in the backyard – lots of critters flying around in the summer time – some of which aren’t alive to fly…

secret sewing sneak peak
Critters in the backyard…a Cicada shell and my signature butterfly (grin)

The clock just struck 9:00 AM June 14th – that means the post office is open and I’ve got to head out the door!  Here’s a parting shot of the quilts prior to boxing up showing you the beautiful labels my friend Janie made for me (with the pattern name and fabric collection name covered up – it is still a secret after all).

secret sewing quilts rolled up and ready to mail
It’s been a whirlwind of secret sewing, time now to send the quilts on their way to Island Batik. Thank you, Janie, for the labels!

Thanks for joining me in this ramble….I can’t imagine keeping this secret for 136 days – Quilt Market is October 28th!!!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, talking about quilts while still keeping them secret! who knew!

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Illuminated Journey – Arizona!

Karen Overton holding her quilt Illuminated Journey outside near a breathtaking view of Arizona

Arizona, We have landed!

Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, poses by a tall cactus in Arizona
Nice to meet you Arizona!

I have been looking forward to this journey for months! This past week I had the honor of being a guest speaker at the Lonesome Valley Quilt Guild in Prescott Valley, Arizona and able to teach a workshop with my original pattern Illuminated Journey.

I have to say the hardest part of packing was deciding what quilts to bring for my trunk show! Every quilt has a story and this rambler does like to ramble on.

Bags are Packed

My friend Dianne accompanied me on this journey. Fortunately, she travels light so I was able to appropriate one of her allowed check in bags. As you can see, I don’t travel light!

Three hot pink polka dot suitcases are full of quilts to take to Arizona
Colorful suitcases are easy to spot at baggage terminals!

 

Let the Journey Begin

photo shows a sandaled foot on the break and view of the dashboard of a rental car
Current world view – trying to find the ignition and the stick shift on the rental car

We flew into Phoenix from Houston Hobby and had a rental car waiting on us. It’ s a good thing that Dianne is a little more up to date with vehicles than I am. I was really surprised when I couldn’t find a key hole in the ignition! She calmly explained to me “put your foot on the brake and press the start button”. But even Dianne was dumbfounded when we couldn’t find the stick shift – who knew it was a knob on the dash!

Road Trip

Our destination was Prescott Valley. I have to thank my friend Larry at church for teaching me the proper way to say this. As a Texan, I thought it was pronounced Press-Scott but he kindly corrected me that it was Pres-cut, the only way I could remember was it sounded like it rhymed with biscuits…

We had a little over an hour and a half drive UP the mountains to our destination. Coming from 10 feet above sea level to over 5000 feet above sea level was breathtaking in multiple ways. The scenery was glorious. Along the way, we saw an exit sign for a visitors center where they shared a location with us to enable us to safely take photos of the fabulously tall cactus we were viewing out the window. If you follow me on Facebook you can see my impromptu Facebook Live video from High Desert Trail. The scenery was truly breathtaking.

Two friends take photos of large cactus at a road side hiking trail in Arizona
Mountain top experience in Arizona

Shop Hop

Colorful fabric on the cutting table of a quilt shop with ladies studying the pattern for a quilt
Dianne studies the pattern and picks out fabric for her next quilt

By late morning we were joining our hostess, Patsy and Karen (daughter/mother), for a fun tour of the two local quilt shops.

First stop was Quilt ‘N Sew Connection I enjoyed all the shop samples and beautiful display of fabrics. The ladies there were very welcoming. Dianne found her “next quilt” and I’ve been recruited to assist her with some of the teachable moments in the pattern. It’s going to be stunning.

Just down the road was Cloth Plus which offered both quilting fabric and home decoration fabric and supplies. This shop was equally friendly – that’s important in my book! I was pleased to see some Island Batik precuts – they actually had the fabric line that I used in my Illuminated Journey sample!

I’m not confessing my purchases – but I will say it wasn’t easy to squeeze in more fabric in my already packed suitcases!

Time for Guild Meeting

After an enjoyable afternoon sight-seeing and a late lunch with the girls, it was time to prepare for my lecture and trunk show.

I had brought two little cameras and asked that photos be taken for me….well, low light and a camera that’s not familiar yielded a few shaky shots as well as grainy shots – but if you are a true quilt lover, and I know you are, you will forgive the photo quality and look at the quilts!

I have to say my favorite part of quilt guild meetings are the show and tell by members. I love seeing what others are making and hearing their stories. The Lonesome Valley Gals are extremely generous in the making and donating of charity quilts – so many were displayed during their community service show and tell. In addition, the members shared their own personal quilts. I was able to capture a few.

A 9 patch collage of ladies showing their quilting projects
The Lonesome Valley Quilt Guild members share their latest quilting creations

Time To Ramble

A lady at the front of a church with a table full of folded quilts ready for show and tell
Getting to know you, getting to know all about you….Karen has her quilts in a row ready to ramble the night away!

It doesn’t look like 100+ pounds when they are all folded up on the table, but I promise I had 3 suitcases weighing just under the 50-pound limit each full of quilted quilts, unquilted quilts as well as all the teaching supplies for Illuminated Journey. Here’s a small sampling of my trunk show…and yes, this Quilt Rambler did ramble on! I lost track of time and never made eye contact with my “timekeeper” Patsy to know when to stop….umm….yeah…how about an hour of rambling on! I really could have talked all night – quilting is such an inexhaustible subject! I got tickled when Patsy stated, “I don’t think she took a breath!”

Scrappy quilt made from purple fabric
Early quilt pieced and quilted  by Karen Overton – Fabric collected in 2001 as fat quarters
scrappy purple quilt with lime green stars
More purple fabrics, quilt top pieced between 2007-2009 waiting to be quilted
Sharing a colorful lemoyne star quilt
Stack ‘N Whack quilt pieced and quilted in 2003. This quilt was a turning point in my journey. I attempted to machine quilt this on my domestic sewing machine – it “made a good woman cuss, so I had to buy a Longarm”
colorful wallhanging quilt
Crown Jewels, a pattern by Deb Tucker, pieced and quilted by Karen Overton,
scrappy reproduction fabric quilt made using a specialty ruler by Deb Tucker
Original pattern using Deb Tucker’s Ruler Corner Beam, I call this “Hummingbird” pieced and quilted by Karen Overton
Binding Tool Star Quilt in colorful island batik fabrics of orange, hot pink, yellow and lime green
A fun fast pattern called Binding Tool Star Quilt by Missouri Star Quilt Co. with a border variation by Karen Overton. Pieced and quilted by Karen Overton using Island Batik fabrics. Yes, Lime Green is a neutral!

Illuminated Journey Workshop

Tuesday morning 14 ladies were up bright and early, toting in their sewing machines and supplies for a full day of learning how to use Deb Tucker’s Studio 180 Design’s Rapid Fire Leymone Star Ruler with my pattern Illuminated Journey.

collage photo shows students in a quilting class
Illuminated Journey class with the Lonesome Valley Quilt Guild ladies

The ladies were delightful. I truly appreciated their kindness and loved getting to spend time quilting and visiting with them. Once again, thank you to Kim who provided a sewing machine for Dianne to be able to sew during class. Since Dianne had already made Illuminated Journey she worked on her first “Jelly Roll Race” quilt and was pleased to get it totally pieced during class.

beautiful scrappy blue quilt
Dianne’s first “jelly roll” quilt – pieced in one day! Fond memories of time spent in Arizona

The day went too quickly! Before I knew it everyone was packing up and we were headed out to dinner with Patsy and Karen, joined by their husbands. I neglected to mention that these ladies, who are actually from Prescott Valley, spent some years in my neck of the woods – the Texas gulf coast – and we were in the Mainland Morning Guild together (Texas City). This mother/daughter team is a joy to be around. Again, Dianne and I appreciated their hospitality.

four quilting friends holding a colorful quilt
The road is never long between quilting friends!
Karen Kumke, Patsy Franko, Karen Overton and Dianne Burnett. Illuminated Journey goes to Arizona!

All Roads Lead South

map showing route from Prescott Valley to Phoenix
Heading south the Phoenix then on to Houston

Well, maybe that’s not true, but it was time for these Texas gals to head south – but not without another stop on the road for our photo op. This time we stopped at an official rest stop called Sunset Peak, a mere 3000-foot elevation. We weren’t disappointed by the view that’s for sure!

 

cactus flowers in Arizona
Dianne enjoying the beautiful flowers
collage of cactus and flowers and a quilt in the wild
Photos taken at the Sunset Point Rest stop
cactus flowers in Arizona
Beauty in the desert
yellow cactus flowers in Arizona
Loved the colorful flowers in the sea of brown – Arizona is a beautiful state

Illuminated Journey in The Wild and On the Road

While taking this photo another rest-stop guest asked if we were going to a quilt show in Utah that weekend…Darn! We would just have to miss that one! Just not enough hours to see all the fabulous quilts in the world!

Karen Overton holding her quilt Illuminated Journey outside near a breathtaking view of Arizona
Illuminated Journey and The Quilt Rambler journey to Arizona

I truly appreciated the good fortune to share my pattern with the Arizona ladies. Thank you again for your hospitality and allowing me the opportunity to see your beautiful state!

Pattern Available

stunning scrappy quilt made with precuts, purchase from Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler
Illuminated Journey is an original pattern by Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, and is available for purchase

Illuminated Journey was created in 2014 as a pattern to be taught on Cactus Quilt’s 2015 Quilting Cruise. The pattern is available for purchase as a PDF download, written as it was for the cruise. If this is something you are interested in please contact me.

In addition, if your guild would like a trunk show or workshop I would be more than happy to discuss details.

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Rambling On the Road, Telling My Story One Quilt At a Time!

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts about guest speakers at guilds and workshops you have enjoyed.

As the Crow Flies


For over a week I’ve been humming that old song “I’m leaving, on a jet plane…” yep. Today is the day! According to Siri “as the crow flies” (or in my case, Southwest Airlines”) I’m a little over 1000 miles into a new adventure!

Siri – how far….

Several months ago a quilting friend of mine contacted me concerning being a guest speaker at her guild and teaching  a workshop. I know Pasty as a fellow guild member of The Mainland Morning Guild in Texas City prior to her moving to Arizona.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Arizona – unless as a toddler perhaps as my dad was military based in Nevada when I was born and I’m sure we drove home to Texas at some point to visit grandparents. But back to my current ramble…

So began the thought process of trying to decide which quilts to bring for my lecture – which in reality is just a long ramble – so I think I’ve got that covered.

I might add that I have over 200 personal quilts that are actually quilted. One hundred of those live in the built-in bookcase in the studio. That’s not counting the 30+ personal quilts waiting to be quilted and we aren’t even going to talk about the works in progress! 

And sew it began! Going through the bookcase, taking quilts off the wall, off the bed, off the table and digging through the quilts in waiting drawer!

I did discover that you can pack more quilts if some are unquilted! Now I don’t feel so bad for not getting around to quilting my own quilts.

Next the decision of what to teach. Having taught in two quilting cruises (2015 and 2016 with Cactus Quilts of Texas City) I have written two different patterns based on Deb Tucker’s Studio 180 Design rulers.  Patsy made the choice between the hunter’s star or the lemoyne star – and lemoyne star it is!


Bags are packed. We are waiting to board. Arizona here we come! Be sure and check social media the next couple of days to see the quilting adventures of Karen & Dianne!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, “on the road again”

Please forgive the formatting and layout – I wrote this on my phone at the airport

Can You Relate to My Whirlwind?

cartoon version of The Quilt Rambler studio with the appearance of the after effects of a whirlwind due to the creative clutter

 The Past Few Weeks Have Been a Whirlwind

cartoon version of The Quilt Rambler studio with the appearance of the after effects of a whirlwind due to the creative clutter
Looks like a whirlwind hit the studio – time for a little comic relief
At times do you feel like you are in a whirlwind? Not necessarily the devastation kind, but the kind where things just keep swirling with lots of commotion and activity. I think if my life story were to be written focusing on the past month it would almost be a comic book. At least I think I tried to take a little comic relief amidst the mayhem and not let the tidal waves of busyness drown me.

 Tax Tornado or Turbo Tax

Two Mac computers side by side, different screen sizes showing out with the old in with the new
Silver lining to the storm of computer issues,  a new bigger computer
When I think of April I think of tax time….and that’s about all I want to say on the subject (grin) except that this season seemed to go on forever, especially with my computer issues. Ah, but every good storm has a silver lining. I was blessed with a new computer and after all the transferring of data, I actually filed my taxes on April 15th – even knowing the deadline this year was April 18th. And it’s behind me! Hallelujah!!

Yep, lest life gets too serious – enter Oscar! He’s my son’s adopted stray kitten that has stolen all our hearts. I love that he is an outdoor kitty with indoor privileges who takes advantage of the doggie door to pop in and say hello when he comes to visit me in the studio. It’s nice that they live next door!

Cute orange kitten peaks out from under an Apple computer monitor
Oscar wants to help with the taxes OR perhaps just play peak a boo

Escaping the Vortex

A pair of tennis shoes peaking out under a quilt showing a relaxing moment
After a long day at the computer, it’s wonderful to put my feet up to relax – and enjoy the comfort of a quilt on a breezy afternoon
Sometimes you just have to kick back and put your feet up! It’s amazing what a little fresh air can do to revive your mind so you can change gears and get back to work.

After the cyclone of taxes, I totally enjoyed making a baby quilt for one of my customers. We have been working off and on for over a year making memory quilts from her deceased father’s plaid shirts to share with her siblings, children and now her future grandchildren… this precious memory quilt was made for her daughter’s baby shower this weekend. Yes, they are eagerly awaiting the beginning of a 4th generation that will be wrapped up in “daddy’s shirts.” What a legacy!

Scrappy quilt made from men's plaid shirts and quilted with hearts will welcome a new baby soon
Made from great grandpa’s shirts, soon a new baby be will be wrapped in 4 generations of love

Stop the Cyclone

Young man stirring a pot on the stove with a bowl of Rice Krispie cereal in a large bowl next to it
Remembering when the boys were young and we made lots of cookies and treats in the kitchen
When life gets full of activity sometimes it’s just best to stop the spin and do something fun. Like making Rice Krispie marshmallow treats with your son! Granted, we had planned on making these a week ago to share at the family Easter lunch, but making them a week late means we had more for ourselves! Unintentional selfishness I promise!

Lady sampling the sticky sides of a bowl after making Rice Krispies treats
Proving that you are never too old to lick the bowl! Not to mention Rice Krispie Treats are more fun in spring colors!

Lady's jeans and shoes laying on a quilt in a hammock
My happy place – relaxing for a few minutes under the tiki hut in my hammock, always with a quilt!
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you are already familiar with my habit of posting my “current world view” showing my feet propped up somewhere – if you don’t follow me, well, why aren’t you? (grin). Anyway, one of my favorite ways to relax at home is to put up my hammock in the backyard and take a short afternoon nap.  Nothing clears my mind better than being outdoors, even if for just a moment. Seems I have needed to steal away for several of these moments lately.  Especially following the recent big rains!

Whirlwind Activity

One definition of whirlwind is “something that is done very quickly and without a lot of thought as in a whirlwind courtship”. Well, nothing along those lines but sometimes I do get crazy ideas in my head and just “gotta sew something” and it’s usually done quickly and without a lot of thought. It generally adds “one more thing” to that already busy to-do list…but for me it is the calming in the mists of the typhoon. Nothing more relaxing than the hum of my sewing machine as I create something…

Colorful fabric book cover surrounds a cookbook
Never judge a book by its cover.
That said, I was looking forward to a retreat with the women of my church this past weekend and knowing I would be arriving early I planned a little downtime to sit by the pool to do some planning and perhaps design…A long overlooked goal has been to seek new recipes for a healthier lifestyle …. well….I didn’t want to be caught “reading” a cookbook beside the pool because those who know me know I don’t cook – so I came up with the idea of covering said cookbook!

 

Majestic purple fabric covers a well read Bible
Purple represents royalty and spirituality. It’s also my favorite color so it was a perfect choice for a simple Bible cover
And then I decided that my Bible could use a quick cover change too.

Quick as lightening these were done and I was packed and on my way looking forward to a little personal time before joining with my friends for a time of fellowship and fun.

Calming the Windstorm

Lady's jean clad legs stretched out in relaxation overlooking a pool area on top of a Houston motel showing beautiful clouds and building in the distance
Current world view – blue skies and serenity overlooking Houston skyline
The antonyms for all the commotion of strong weather words like whirlwind, cyclone, hurricane, or tornado are calm, peace, quiet, relaxation, even laziness. (don’t you just love a good thesaurus!).

Restfulness and refreshing describe this past weekend of the Women’s retreat. I arrived early to take advantage of that rooftop pool and did do a little “reading” in my cookbook.

 

My husband texted me the following photo, a gentle reminder not to take life too seriously.

cute orange kitten peaking out from a talavera bathroom sink
When mom’s away the kitten does play
A  time of worship and Bible study was just what I needed to tame that dust devil of a busy life into a refocused life  of choosing joy. A revival of the heart.

Clear Skies on the Horizon – Looking Ahead to May

Taking time to relax, refresh and reflect can be very inspiring. My busy brain is constantly in motion thinking ahead, looking for new opportunities, new ideas….even in the restfulness there is always inspiration if you look for it.

Lady's jean clad legs stretched out in relaxation looking at a window in an outdoor mall
When we relax and open our eyes to the world around us even simple things can be inspiring
I’ve already got an idea for the Island Batik Ambassador May challenge “modern batik” inspired by my “current worldview” waiting on my friends for dinner prior to retreat…you will just have to wait to see where this leads! It is a little off the wall, so to speak, as I am planning a wall hanging! We’re finishing up the April challenge of Adventurous Applique so why not visit the other Island Batik Ambassadors’ blogs to see how they completed the challenge. You can find their links here. 

 

 

 

Two smiling friends taking a selfie with the skyline of Houston behind them
Couldn’t resist a selfie with the beautiful skyline of Houston behind us – Dianne and I will soon be in the friendly skies headed to Arizona!
And speaking of friends. I’m happy to say that Dianne, my church and quilting friend, will be joining me the first week of May as we fly to Arizona to be with the Lonesome Valley Quilt Guild where I will be speaking at their guild meeting on Monday, May 1st, then teaching a workshop on Tuesday, May 2nd.

Island Batik fabric strips made into leymone star blocks in preparation for an upcoming workshop making the pattern Illuminated Journey by Karen Overton
Working on class sample for upcoming workshop, Illuminated Journey, with beautiful Island Batik fabrics
So much to look forward to in May – but wait! We still have a week to navigate before we take flight! Can’t wait to see what is just around the horizon and in the studio!

Encouragement for Your Whirlwind

This song came on while I was writing my blog and I wanted to share some encouragement with you. We all go through whirlwinds, some whirlwinds of activity are good, some whirlwinds of emotions can be crippling. It is my hope the words of this song will help you not to feel alone in your hurricane.

Hurricane by Natalie Grant

You’re spinning out of control again
Your life feels like a sinking ship
You’re wondering how it came to this

Is it too late?
Is it too far?
For Him to reach you
And come to where you are

Step out on the edge
Don’t be afraid of it
And when you feel the rain
Call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane

You’re in the wreckage underneath
Your hope is buried somewhere deep
You’re wondering how long it will keep?

It’s never too late
Never too far
For you to reach out
And take a hold of love

Step out on the edge
Don’t be afraid of it
And when you feel the rain
Call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane

Don’t back down from the fight
He’ll shelter you tonight
Just hold on for the change
Call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane

There’s a place, there’s a place you can run
When you fall, and it’s all come undone
You’ll be safe in the raging storm
So just let go
‘Cause you are held in His arms

Step out on the edge
Don’t be afraid of it
And when you feel the rain
Call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane

Ooh ooh…

And when you feel the rain
Call His name
He’ll find you in a hurricane

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, sharing the journey reminding all of us to chose joy even during the storms of life

 

Can you relate? Does your to-do list get crazy and you feel like all you can do is laugh to keep from crying? Do you ever feel like you just “gotta sew” even if it’s a whirlwind of a little project? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Furry Fridays With Island Batik Ambassadors

Furry Fridays With Island Batik Ambassadors

Piece for Shelter Pets  and the Island Batik Ambassadors have been publishing Furry Friday posts featuring adoptable pets via the PetFinder Foundation for a number of weeks now as an encouragement to bring attention to animals needing to be adopted. You may recall that our Island Batik Ambassador project for February was the making of Kennel Quilts and we encouraged your participation – to which we say thank you!

This week’s sponsor of Furry Friday is Hancock of Paducah.

Before I share the pets of the week I wanted to say a word about our sponsor – I can remember when I was first seriously bitten by the quilting bug (around the turn of the century!)  and discovered the beautiful full-color Hancock of Paducah mail order catalog, truly a quilter’s fabric version of the Sear’s Christmas Catalog! It was through their catalog that I fell in love with batik fabrics…I would literally circle fabrics and dog-ear pages to create my wish list and place my order. In today’s digital age we don’t have to patiently wait on the mail carrier to bring our catalog but can “shop in our PJ’s” anytime we want! Ah! Progress! Be sure and check them out!

This Week’s Featured Fur Friends

Speaking of dog-ears (don’t you love that cleaver transition) Here’s this week’s featured pup, Bristol,  who looks like she’d love a scratch behind her ears!

Bristol is an adorable 13-week-old female Shepherd mix. She is a typical sweet and playful puppy. Bristol is good with other dogs.

And for our cat lovers out there we have Carlee looking for a good home.

Carlee is a sweet shy steel gray and white bobtail cat. She’s three years old and she is looking for a loving home where she can get lots of snuggles and cuddles.

It is our goal of spotlighting these precious critters to bring attention to the needs of our local shelters to find forever homes for these pets.

As part of our sharing, the Island Batik Ambassadors have also been encouraged to share our own personal pet stories so sit back while I ramble about mine….

Life Without Pets is No Life at All

I’ve always had a pet. Growing up we had a beautiful  medium sized “heinz 57” mix dog we called Blackie. She was the runt of a litter from my great aunt’s country home and in my life from 1st grade to my senior year in high school. A few years later my husband and I adopted Bonnie from the local shelter, another “heinz 57” whom we dearly loved and who lived in our fenced backyard during our time in Tennessee. We had her for nearly 10 years with her later years having the addition of Annie, a fun loving “yellow dog” whom was later adopted by my brother-in-law when we moved into an RV full time. (another story for another time). You can see a photo of Annie here as she was much loved by Bill and his family and lived to be a good age, a well cared for outside dog.

Then along came Pixxie. She was actually purchased by our then 12 year old son Jake in 2000 while we were working on the road full-time in our RV – the only critter that I/we had ever had as an indoor pet, and the only pet with papers! Pixxie was a full-blooded registered Chihuahua, weighting in at only 6 pounds 6 ounces full grown! (same size as our sons at a birth – they turned out to be over 6 feet grown – but again, another story for another time.)

Pixie was known as The Professional Quilt Model as she always posed with my quilts. 2000-2016

Then Along Came Oscar

Pixie was nearing the end of a wonderful life, it was sad to see her losing her sight and mobility – but she still had her sweet gentle personality and had a lot of “life” in her spirt. She was our “one and only” and didn’t really care to be around other animals…that is, until Oscar showed up.

We weren’t looking for another pet, even though we had been feeding stray cats in the front yard for years. Then around the end of September 2016 this precious little orange tabby showed up across the street by our mailbox…a busy high traffic street.

Despite my attempts to coax the kitten to the safety of our yard with tempting treats, it wasn’t until Jake called him that the kitten came to the porch for food.

Found: One stray orange kitty

We weren’t going to adopt him, but we weren’t going to let him starve either. When we discovered that he was getting under the car we all decided he needed to be moved to the fenced in backyard. I will add that Jake has an apartment in the backyard…

Oscar discovered he liked the shelter under our tiki hut and made himself a home

We still weren’t claiming him as a pet, just a cuddly friendly stray we were feeding. After all, we didn’t know how Pixxie would react, and she certainly didn’t need a bouncy kitten knocking her over or blind-siding her! As it turned out, they actually got a long….and it wasn’t long before Oscar wanted to come inside…

Pixxie wasn’t so sure about Oscar – he didn’t have any manners – Pixxie was the queen of beggars but she was patient – this kitten was bold in his begging!
Oscar kept wanting to be with us and tried out the doggie door a few times. Or he would sit outside Jake’s apartment waiting for him to come home from work. Thanksgiving found Oscar sharing a meal with Pixxie.

Yes, Oscar won his way into our hearts in a few short weeks and we made the commitment to “adopt him” by taking him to the local animal shelter that offered neutering and first kitten shots. And Jake put in a litter box in his apartment so Oscar could sleep inside on those winter nights. Welcome to the family Oscar!

Oscar certainly is a playful kitten

Oscar was with us just 2 short months before we lost our precious Pixxie. God answered my prayers and I was able to hold Pixxie until the very end. She died a peaceful natural death and was buried in our backyard with Oscar being a part of our little ceremony early December 2016. To this day I sometimes see Oscar laying over Pixxie’s grave spot under the palm trees in the backyard.

We weren’t looking for a pet but God knew we would need comfort and He gave us Oscar.

Oscar is home where he belongs

Officially Oscar is Jake’s kitten and bunks with him in the backyard apartment. Oscar prefers to be outdoors but has full use of the “doggie dog” and comes to visit in the studio at his leisure. He loves my quilts, and he loves to snuggle when we watch TV in the evenings as he is awaiting Jake’s arrival home from work. I’ve never been a “cat-person” but Oscar lets us treat him like a dog, I find myself calling him “puppy” as that was my pet name for Pixxie. He is a very social kitten and we love him for that.

No, Oscar doesn’t replace Pixxie, but he joins the other pets of my life in his own special place of my heart. Isn’t God good to create such marvelous creatures to love and be loved by!

Won’t You Consider Adopting a Pet

If you don’t have a critter to call your own I would highly encourage you to visit your local shelters – I can almost guarantee that some sweet kitten or precious pup will steal your heart.

Thank you Island Batik and Hancock of Paducah for bringing the awareness to the forefront that there are so many animals that need good homes. And thank you for this opportunity to share my story of how Oscar came into our lives at just the right time, as well as to honor my beloved Pixxie with a small tale of how she touched our lives.

But Wait! There’s More!

Visit the other Island Batik Ambassadors to read about their Furry Friday posts. This week’s bloggers are:

Mary Mack’s Blog

Hearts Creations

Kissed Quilts

The Quilt Rambler (you are here)

Seams to be Sew

 

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler

 

3 Reasons Why You Should Join a Quilting Guild

Being a part of a quilting guild is sharing the love

Today we are celebrating National Quilting Day and what better way than to discuss the top three reasons why you should join a quilting guild if you haven’t already done so.

 

Reason #1 To Join a Quilting Guild: to Meet New Friends

Quilting Guilds are full of fun friendly folk
Joining a quilting guild will forge new friendships

It’s been my experience that quilters are some of the best people you could ever meet. Generally, they tend to be very unselfish and giving. Most quilters make quilts to give away. How many of you have a quilt made by a grandmother, mother or someone special? So, doesn’t that give you a hint of the kind of people you would find in a guild? Yep, a guild provides fun friendly folk that just happen to love quilting.

Quilting Guild Member Denise made this quilt as a gift
Denise made this Olivia quilt for a special family member
Members of Quilting Guilds are contributors to their community
Janielle made this quilted Ark Covering for her local synagogue
The beginnings of a beautiful large pillow top by quilting guild member Leah
Leah is making large quilted throw pillows for her college-age daughter and her roommates

Reason # 2 To Join A Quilting Guild: to be Inspired

Quilting Guild members share their talent and inspire others
Janielle always has a fun project to share. Her energy alone is inspiring

The members of my local quilt guild, The Island Quilters Guild from Galveston, hands down are a very inspiring group of ladies! I don’t even want to add up the years of combined experiences but I can tell you that each and every one in their own way is influencing my quilting journey.

 

Quilting Guilds are a place to observe and learn new techniques such as Millefiore English Paper Piecing
Jane has been patiently working on her Millefiore English Paper Piecing

I am always learning from my quilting guild friends by observing their fabric combinations, watch them exploring different styles, and observing new techniques. Not to mention seeing the latest notions, fabrics, designs and receiving shopping referrals! Being with my quilting friends is always infectious – in a good way – motiving me to go home and start a new project!

Being a part of a quilting guild provides opportunities for sewing with friends
I love sewing with my guild friends. On the design wall is my pattern Double Occupancy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reason # 3 to Join a Quilting Guild: to Share Your Quilting Passion 

Quilting Guilds support local community service projects by donating their time and quilts to those in need
Pat is a true example of unselfishness – she produces multiple quilts each month for community service

Quilt guilds offer a variety of activities from guest speakers, classes, show and share, community service projects, sew ins, retreats, seasonal parties, and for our island guild the annual bus ride from Galveston to the Houston International Quilt Festival for Preview Night each fall!

Quilting guild members share their creative love of quilting with others
Show and Share is my personal favorite thing about quilting guilds and sew ins – such creativity! Denise’s Jack’s Wheel reminded me that I have this pattern in my UFO closet. Time to get back to it!

 

 

 

 

 

Each guild has its own flavor and unique personalities. It never ceases to amaze me the talent of numerous seasoned quilters gathered together encouraging each other to sharpen their skills and try something new. I find it refreshing to know that quilting is being shared with the next generation. Bottom line I think it’s just plain fun to gather with folk who enjoy talking about quilting as much as I do.

New members are welcomed in quilting guilds as they celebrate their first quilt
Belonging to a quilting guild is a wonderful way to share your FIRST quilt! Congratulations on a job well done Diana
Taking classes is one benefit of belonging to a local quilting guild
LeMoyne Star Technique Class taught by Karen Overton at Island Quilters Guild

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Telling Your Story One Quilt at a Time

Are you a member of a local or national quilt guild? What do you enjoy most about your guild? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Hello March – Fun Challenges Ahead

Hello March, In Like a Lamb, weather is perfect to kick back in the hammock

Hello March

Hello March, In Like a Lamb, weather is perfect to kick back in the hammock
March 2017 In Like A Lamb

Just a quick hello to say that March entered like a lamb in the Houston/Galveston area today. It was a little overcast but still the high was around 80 degrees with 100% humidity. Gotta love it!

Instagram Challenges

Instagram challenge for quilters to post daily in March
A fun challenge to post daily on Instagram during the Month of March

So, while taking a quick break in my hammock under the tiki hut after lunch I was scrolling through Instagram and found two fun challenges that started today.  First #IGQuiltFest by Amy Ellis .  This one is going to be fun to see what other quilters will have to share. Here’s the schedule for posting each day.

Instagram challenge for small business owners to post daily
Another fun Instagram challenge to post daily

 

The second one I discovered is #marchmeetthemakers by Joanne Hawker. The purpose of this is for small businesses to tell the story behind their brand…this one is going to be more of a challenge because I don’t have an Etsy shop as I think most participants will.  Who knows, maybe later I will!

 

Challenging to wear so many hats, longarm quilter, island batik ambassador, quilt teacher, bike rider
According to the challenges we were to introduce ourselves on the March 1st post

I introduced myself on Instagram as a longarm quilter, quilter, quilting teacher, the maker of t-shirt and memory quilts, Island Batik Ambassador  as well as mentioning my love of riding my bike near the Galveston Bay.

Anyone can join in – whether following or participating! You can find me on Instagram as The Quilt Rambler.

Island Batik Ambassador Challenge

This is the real exciting news!

colorful island batik fabrics at the sewing machine waiting to be turned into a quilt project for the March challenge
Coming up in March – another Island Batik Ambassador Project

The March challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors is “March Mini Madness” and it involves “Foundation or English Paper Piecing, 24 x 24 or smaller.”

Tall order for this traditional piecer who loves rulers and such…. I’ve been working on my project off and on for a few weeks and can’t wait to show you – hopefully by the weekend.

March Challenges

Do you have challenges ahead for yourself in March? Maybe fun quilt related things, maybe family adventures – will you share with me in the comment section below?

Or perhaps you are facing true challenges of the difficult sort? Just wanted to share a word of encouragement – I believe in prayer and if I can pray for you please leave a comment or feel free to email me.

March In Like a Lamb…. I hope not out like a Lion!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, rambling on, Telling Your Story One Quilt at a Time!

What’s Up in The Quilt Rambler Studio – Weekly Review

Two palm trees at waters edge of Galveston Bay in Bacliff TX on a warm sunny February day

Sometimes a rambler just has to ramble….and what better way than a weekly review of what’s been happening professionally and personally…put your feet up with me and relax a bit as I share this week’s happenings in and around the studio.

Current Worldview:

Viewpoint of author looking at her feet while laying in a hammock
My favorite current world view – kicking back in my hammock enjoying the unseasonably warm February day

I don’t do winters well, and have been more than thankful that our area has been shattering all sorts of weather records for February.  Apologies to those of you with snow, but I say “yes please” to sunny days in the high 70’s and 80’s!

So what does the weather have to do with quilting you say? Probably nothing, except I find I’m more inspired when the weather is nice. Something about relaxing for just a few minutes in my hammock helps the creativity flow….

 

Quilts in the Studio This Past Week

Starburst quilt pattern with three coordinating colors for a baby quilt
Lindsey pieced her first quilt for her sister’s baby shower

I love it when someone in the younger generation starts quilting. This is Lindsey’s very first quilt! She pieced it for her sister’s baby shower this weekend. I heard it was a big hit, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s gorgeous!

Quilters are so generous – Lindsey’s first quilt was certainly stitched with love and will always have a story to tell!

Not only is a new baby coming soon, but “hello world – there’s a new quilter born!”  Welcome to the quilting family Lindsey! Can’t wait to see what you create next!

Wilderness applique quilt being quilted on the longarm
On the frame in The Quilt Rambler Studio – beautiful McKenna Ryan Out & About Quilt

On the opposite end of the quilting family is my 90-year-old friend Lila. She is simply amazing. I have known her a dozen years and her quilting never ceases to astound me from complex piecing to beautiful applique – we all agree that Lila is a master quilter! She is very well respected and loved in our Island Quilters Guild in Galveston…she will be our featured quilter in this summer’s quilt show so stay tuned for that!

 

Nothing Like a Good Quilting Challenge

Jake is sketching out a quilting design with fabric swatches next to him
Planning day for mother/son quilt challenge

A few weeks ago, my son Jake challenged me to a mother/son quilt off. Seems it’s been 10 years since we last made a quilt together. Challenge accepted.

We have set aside Monday’s to work together in the studio. Jake’s favorite number is 13 and we both thought it very fitting that Monday, Feb 13th was our first meeting of the minds.

We agreed to work with the same fabric line, Pressed Petals from Island Batik which is shipping now to a quilt shop near you! Jake is an artist and pulled his fabric choices and had a sketch done in no time.

Quilt block with high and low points to make a wonky star block
Working with scrap fabric from the studio Jake pieced a “wonky star” block

This past Monday, Feb 20 we set up the extra sewing machine for his refresher course on the basics of sewing. Kinda like riding a bike, in no time he had his practice block completed.

I look forward to working with him in the studio each week.

 

 

Cuteness Alert

playful kitten on top of hanging chair playing with Karen sitting below
Oscar loves to play atop my hanging chair under the backyard tiki hut

Jake lives next door and his kitten Oscar has in and out privileges when the studio screen door is left open so he can use the “doggie door.” Without too much detail here, Oscar was a stray that showed up a few months before our precious Pixxie passed. For those who have followed me for years on my former blog location, you know that Pixxie was my constant companion and known as my “professional quilt model”.  Click here to see my Pinterest tribute or here to read about her passing.

Anyway….We are all so thankful that God sent Oscar to us. I’m not really a cat person but this little fellow has certainly warmed my heart. Here’s some photos from this past week.

Cute kitten asleep on colorful quilt
Oscar enjoys napping on the studio couch
cute kitten asleep on colorful quilts covering a couch
Oscar is at home in The Quilt Rambler studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cute kitten in a basket on outdoor furniture
Oscar enjoys the warm spring day under the backyard tiki hut

 

 

Cute kitten covered up with a quilt
Oscar enjoys watching TV in the evenings waiting for Jake to come home from work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Up for March in The Quilt Rambler Studio?

A pile of baby clothes waiting to be made into a childhood memory quilt by The Quilt Rambler
A collection of clothing from two sisters to be made into a childhood memory quilt

Glad you asked! I am in the beginning stage of a childhood memory quilt. Seems two precious little girls were born close to each other and shared a lot of the same clothing.

Mom has saved her favorite outfits from the girls  to have made into a quilt!. What a fabulous way to hold on to those precious infant year memories!

bright fabrics chosen for a new quilt project
Fabrics chosen for a special Island Batik Ambassador Project

In addition, I will be working on my Island Batik Ambassador project for March.

I’m going to wait a few days to share just what the project theme is, but I can tell you that I chose to use my 5″ squares from the Sweet Nectar collection, which is also a current fabric now shipping to your local quilt shop.

With colors like these, every day is a sunny spring day in the studio!

colorful island batik fabrics at the sewing machine waiting to be turned into a quilt project
Coming up in March – another Island Batik Ambassador Project

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Telling Your Story One Quilt At A Time

Please take time to leave a comment and if you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to receive the blog regularly through email.

Galentine’s Day 2017 Island Style

Galentine’s Day or Valentine’s Day? Projects for both were made at this weekend’s Sew In with the Island Quilters Guild of Galveston.

What is Galentine’s Day you say?

According to google search Galentine’s Day was “invented” by a fictional character on a program called Parks & Recreation to be celebrated each February 13th – it’s all about enjoying time with your lady friends, saving the romance for February 14th with your sweetheart.

February’s challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors is to make Kennel Quilts but our bonus challenge is to make something for Galentine’s Day.

Love is Sharing Your Island Batik Fabrics

Knowing that I had an Island Quilters Guild Sew In over the weekend I began pulling fabric from my stash to go along with the Valentine fabric included in my ambassador box. My goal was to include my quilting friends in this project – after all, isn’t that the “true meaning” of Galentine’s Day! Girl time! Only thing better than girl time is girlfriend quilting time!!

Island Time – Island Quilters Guild Style

Janie is enjoying piecing together fabrics cut with the GoCutter
Janie makes quick time of her quarter square triangles cut with the AccuQuilt GoCutter

My Galveston Island girlfriends are the best, not only are they creative accomplished quilters, they are gracious and willing to set aside their own projects for a few hours to “play” in my Island Batik. fabrics.

Without further ramble, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves…sorta….

Sew Many Ideas!

Island Batiks Fabrics in Beautiful Valentine Colors
Ready Set Go – Such A Beautiful Pallet of Batiks to Work With For a Fun Galentine’s / Valentine’s Project

I couldn’t come up with an idea for a mug rug – actually, I had too many ideas! I’d been saving ideas to my Pinterest board but couldn’t seem to narrow it down. When quilting gives you too many decisions just make a purse!

No pattern, just making do. I had a candy wrapper saved from last year – the 150 year anniversary of Sweethearts, which IS my favorite Valentine candy. To protect the candy wrapper I placed a piece of vinyl over it before sewing the sashing strips from my batik stash. On the back, I made patchwork from the fat quarters provided in my Island Batik Ambassador box.

Add a phone pocket to the inside purse lining
Any purse of mine has to have a phone pocket!

I added a phone pocket to the lining piece before using the Fantastico from Superior Threads for the quilting.

Ready to quilt the purse piece using Superior Threads Fantastico, the perfect blend to the Island Batik fabrics

Guild sew ins always include teachable moments….Janie shared with me how to do machine appliqué – something I’m not too well-versed in. I like the way the hearts added to my little purse.

Janie is a willing teacher – she is demonstrating how to use the blanket stitch to go around the heart raw edge appliqué on the Galentine/Valentine purse project
Janie was more than gracious with this teachable moment – that’s what girlfriends do for each other!
Front view of my Galentine/Valentine Purse, perfect for date night
I just love the way the Island Batik fabrics blend together to make this patchwork sing. Enjoyed my first lesson on machine appliqué with the button hole stitch too.

More Projects

Pieced heart block
Dena make a quick project inspired by Missouri Star Quilt Company’s recent heart tutorial

Janie brought her AccuQuilt Go Cutter for our enjoyment. I loved the amazement on Shirley’s face as Janie showed her how a GoCutter worked! Didn’t take Shirley long to make her Galentine’s project.

GoCutter makes quick work of cutting out fabric
Shirley is genuinely amazed as she sees the ease in using the Accuquilt GoCutter in action cutting out the heart appliqué pieces for her Galentine’s Day project
Shirley used the heart die from the GoCutter for her Galentine's Day block
Shirley is all heart when it comes to requests to quilt with friends.
GoCutters are fast and easy to use
Katy used the GoCutter to cut squares for her project
Katy is our resident smoking needle, she makes quick work of any project.
Close up of Katy’s Galentine/Valentine pouch made with beautiful Island Batik fabrics

Our sew-in was a two-day event and I was pleased that more wanted to join in the fun on Saturday.

Braided mug rug made with Island Batik fabrics
Debbie joined the Galentine’s Day project fun with a colorful mug rug made with Island Batik fabrics
Mug Rug and Girl Scout Cookies
Debbie’s granddaughter had a very unique thank you card included with the delivery of the cookies – which look darling on this Galentine’s Day mug rug
Kennel Quilts are fun to make especially in Valentine Fabric from Island Batik
Pam’s Galentine’s Day Kennel Quilt in the Making

Pam decided she wanted to combine the two February challenges and made a Galentine’s Kennel Quilt.

I Have Great Gal-friends to Celebrate Galentine’s Day

We heart Island Batik fabrics
Shirley pieced the block & Karen quilted and bound it. Truly a Galentine’s Day collaboration between friends.
Three Amigas – Happy Galentine’s Day from the Island Quilters Guild and Island Batik Ambassadors!

How will you celebrate Galentine’s Day this year?

Island Batik scraps make a pretty picture themselves
Scrap cutting are the proof of a fun day playing in Island Batik Fabrics

Leave a comment and share!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Telling YOUR Story One Quilt At A Time

 

 

 

Jesse’s Memory Quilt

Guest blogger Irma Cortez

Recently Irma visited the Quilt Rambler Studio to reminisce about the making of Jesse’s memory quilt

Once again I’ve asked my friend Irma to share her story concerning one of the quilts that I’ve made for her through the years.  This is about her brother Jesse who would have been 55 today, February 11. Among other things, Jesse served his country and for that I would like to say a personal thank you!

So pour that second cup of coffee, settle in with your favorite quilt, sit back & enjoy this heart felt story of a sister’s eternal love.

The Making of Jesse’s Memory Quilt

This is my story about the various quilts that my friend, Karen E. Overton, has made for me – this one is specifically about the quilt she made for me for my brother Jesse using some of his favorite old t-shirts.

First, some background information…

My name is Irma Cortez, and Jesse Cortez is one of my younger brothers.  Sadly, Jesse passed away unexpectedly in June 2011.  He was only 49 years old.

As printed in his obituary, Jesse lived his life his way and only his way.  He had many passions in his short life, some of which were:  family and friends; working hard; playing just as hard; always having a good time; the Dallas Cowboys; riding motorcycles; collecting classic muscle cars; hunting; camping; drag racing; and joking & kidding around and making others laugh every chance he got.

Jesse’s Career Path included the U.S. Marine Corp

Jesse quit high school and never actually graduated, but instead enlisted into the Marines at the age of 17.  My parents had to sign papers for him to enlist, but they proudly did, and he eventually received his GED while he was in the service.

While serving his country from 1980 to 1983 as a Proud Marine, Jesse could travel the world to places like Japan and Okinawa.  After four years, he was Honorably Discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal.

Jesse Finds His Second Career with The Light Company

Once he arrived back home, Jesse got a job as an Apprentice at HL&P (Houston Lighting & Power).  He eventually completed his apprenticeship, and continued to work for HL&P for a total of 28 years.  To better explain what Jesse did at The Light Company, he was one of those men that you would see up in a big bucket truck working on power lines.  He loved climbing those power poles and working outside.

During his years at The Light Company, HL&P decided they would stop using paid models or actors for their company promotions and commercials.

In 1997, HL&P sent out notifications to all employees that they would be using company employees for the upcoming new print ads and commercials and that any employees who were interested  could submit their names to be considered for the new marketing campaign.  Of course, my brother submitted his name, and the rest is history as they say.

During those years, HL&P went through several management changes and a few name changes – at one time it became CenterPoint Energy, and then it eventually became Reliant Energy.

My brother was very well liked at work by his managers and supervisors, and he was known to be a very hard worker,  always very supportive of his company.  He represented HL&P in many BBQ cook-offs at the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo with his team oftentimes winning top prizes.

Jesse was a stubborn free spirit that cared for others with his whole heart and soul – he was always there when you needed him.  To me, my brother’s greatest asset was his great zest for life and his kind and gentle soul.  Although physically, Jesse was a large, stout man, he was really just a teddy bear at heart, and he loved children.  Because of his love for children he participated in various fun-runs or toy-runs for local charities, like the Shriners.  Since Jesse was never married, nor had children of his own, he always volunteered to work the various holidays so that his married co-workers could have time with their kids and families for the holidays.

Jesse’s Extra Career – Advertising!

The first photo in this story shows my brother in one of the original full-page ads that appeared in the Houston Chronicle for the new HL&P marketing ads using real employees of the company.  This print ad first appeared in the paper on 11/12/1997, and it was later reprinted several more times throughout the following years.  It was interesting to note that even after the company changed names, the HL&P logo on his hardhat in the original picture was also changed.

Houston Chronicle ad with Jesse Cortez
Jesse was chosen for one of the full-page ads for HL&P in the Houston Chronical on 11/27/1997.

Of course, Jesse had told everyone that would listen, including our parents that he had volunteered, and that he had been chosen for some of the ads or commercials, but he wasn’t sure when any of them would come out.  He also told us that he had signed a release, and that HL&P would be able to use his name and his pictures for all time.

On November 27, my parents started getting phone calls from friends and family from all over.  They had all seen the signs and the newspaper, and had recognized Jesse and everyone was calling our parents to talk about it.  My parents were always very proud all their children, but during this time, they were extra proud of Jesse and they sure enjoyed the extra attention they were getting because of Jesse being in the paper.  (Note:  there will be more about this photo later in this story.)

After Jesse’s Unexpected Death Decisions Had to Be Made

After his death, I helped my siblings to clean out  his house and the shop next door to it.  Since Jesse had gained a lot of weight in the few years before he died, he had lots of clothes of the Big & Tall variety; however, all his clothes were so large that none of my other brothers wanted any of them.  During the cleanup, I asked the family if anyone wanted any of his clothing, otherwise I was going to donate it all to the Goodwill.  All my brothers told me they didn’t want any of it, so I proceeded to separate all the jeans from the shirts, and jackets, etc.  While I was doing this, I noticed that Jesse still had several of the shirts that I personally had gifted to him during his life (albeit it some of them were torn and tattered), so I decided that I’d keep all those shirts and any of the ones that I knew were some of his favorite shirts, or that he had worn most often.

This is how and when I decided to make a memory quilt with his old t-shirts, and this is how Karen Overton comes into this story.

Time to Visit The Quilter Again

Since Karen had already previously made me two other quilts – a queen-sized quilt using my son’s high school spirit shirts that seldom got used because it doesn’t get cold enough, and a “lap throw” using my Mom’s old clothes that gets used very frequently, I decided that I wanted another lap throw using Jesse’s most favorite t-shirts.

Once I knew the size of the quilt that I wanted, I decided that I wanted to include those shirts that conveyed what I considered to be the four great passions of my brother – those being: the U.S. Marines; his job; Chevy Camaros; and The Dallas Cowboys of course!

The quilt I decided to have made was another 3X4 quilt (also called a 12-square quilt), meaning it was 3-squares wide and 4-squares long. Approximately 53″ x 70″.

During the planning time of making this quilt, I knew that Karen would need to know what color scheme I would want, and it was too soon to tell yet, but I knew that she would be working on the t-shirts first, cutting them into squares, etc., and that I still had time to choose the colors for the sashing, the cornerstones, and the backing.

Once I had chosen the theme of the quilt, which was to use only those shirts that I felt would emphasize his passions in life, I could already envision the final product in my mind’s eye.

Below is a photo of the completed memory quilt that Karen made using my brother’s old t-shirts.  The finished product speaks for itself.

Memory Quilt made from a deceased brother's clothing
This is the front of my brother’s memory quilt.

Each Quilt Block Tells Jesse’s Story

Each t-shirt square used in this quilt tells a story about my brother by itself, but pieced together with all the other squares, I think it paints the perfect picture of who my brother was.  I’m very happy and pleased with the way it came out and I have this quilt on display on a quilt rack in my living room.

Although I had several t-shirts to pick from, and because I wanted to use only those that most represented the things that I felt were most important to my brother, I felt the theme of the quilt coming to life.  In the end, we used one t-shirt for the square with a reference to Chevy muscle cars; and we used other t-shirts for the various squares with a reference to the U.S. Marines, Harley Davidson, and the Dallas Cowboys, which would create four  of the needed twelve squares.

Since Jesse had worked for HL&P for so long and because the company had changed names several times, and because he had acquired work shirts from each of the new companies, we were able to use a combination of smaller pieces of his various shirts for three more squares each representing the original HL&P, Reliant Energy and CenterPoint Energy to fully represent the entire 28 years he had with the company.  This was important to me as I knew how proud he was for having had only one job his entire adult life.

Picking The Right Shirts Can Sometimes Be Challenging

As it turned out, this was not a simple project by any means.  In fact, it turned out to be very complicated and tedious for both me and Karen.  During the planning and preparation phases of this quilt, we encountered several obstacles that I feel the need to explain to fully appreciate Karen’s workmanship and the sentimental value I had already invested in this memory quilt.

One issue was that not all of his work shirts had large enough logos or artwork on them to be able to make one full square (this is important because all the squares must be the same size to make the finished product); however, because Karen is so experienced and knowledgeable in making custom quilts, and because she knows how to improvise so well, she was able to “piece together” the smaller logos from both the pockets and/or the sleeves of his various work shirts to “create” additional squares of the proper size.

Another issue was that I knew that we were going to need a total of twelve squares to finish the quilt, and at one point, we discovered that we only had eight full squares, which meant we were going to be short four squares to finish the quilt that I wanted.  Luckily, as previously stated above, Karen could partially solve this issue by piecing together those smaller pieces from the same shirts to create two additional squares for a total of ten squares, which still left me short two more squares to finish the quilt.

By this point in time, I was at my wit’s end.  I was frustrated with myself, and disappointed that may have to revise my theme and use other shirts that would not convey what I had imagined in my mind.  Thankfully, Karen was not worried at all.  She gave me time to mull it over, she told me to look around for more shirts – she told me that not all the shirts  had  to had specifically  belonged to my brother, and not to stress too much about it – she was confident that it would all turn out.

This part is a little bit off-topic, but it serves as additional background.  There is a local biker bar called, “Ronnie’s Hog Heaven” in town that is owned by some long-time friends of ours, and it was not unusual for Jesse to stop by there several nights a week to have a few drinks and visit with friends after work.  As luck would have it, I had previously purchased a bright orange t-shirt from Ronnie’s bar that I thought could be used as one of the missing squares that I still needed for the quilt.

Persistance Pays Off

As one last ditch effort to find a t-shirt I could use for the last remaining square, I started going to local resale shops and several of the Goodwill stores around town looking for men’s t-shirts that might work.

It just so happened that on one of these trips, I came across a shirt that quite literally jumped out at me and I knew it was the exact shirt that I was looking for.  My heart started pounding, and I was actually giddy as I was walking to the register to buy it, and I was grinning from ear to ear.

Finding this last shirt at a random Goodwill store is how and when I decided to use the Harley Davidson color scheme for my brother’s memory quilt.

Below is a picture of the artwork from that shirt that we needed and used for the last, center square to finish my brother’s quilt.

Tasmanian Devil Utility Worker T-shirt found at a thrift store completed the quilt

The Tasmanian Devil Utility Worker T-Shirt Reflects Jesse’s Life

To better understand and appreciate the significance of why I chose this shirt with this picture on it is to know the following things about my brother Jesse:  1) Jesse had a tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil on his back right shoulder and he wore a small gold Tasmanian Devil on a gold chain around his neck; 2) Jesse was a long time employee of HL&P and was therefore a “utility worker” for many years; 3) the photo that HL&P used of my brother in the newspaper in 1997 shows him wearing his hardhat and also with a roll of power lines resting on his shoulder; and 4) my brother used to carry his tools and wore a utility belt around his waist when he was working.  Now, look at the Tasmanian Devil picture on the quilt again and then look at the first picture at the beginning of this story and tell me that you don’t recognize the uncanny resemblance!?

It was simply amazing to me that the Tasmanian Devil on this random shirt was posed and dressed as a utility worker, and it instantly reminded me of my brother, so that is why that very last square on this quilt means so much to me.

When I found that shirt, I immediately called Karen to inform her that I had the last two shirts that we needed for the quilt, and she let me come over to drop them off, and that was all she wrote… or in this case, that was all that Karen need to start stitching.

T-shirts and Clothing Are a Reminder of Those We Love

As with the other two quilts that Karen made for me, I was very pleased and thrilled with the finished product.  The Harley Davidson color scheme came together after adding my orange t-shirt from Ronnie’s bar, and it was an easy choice to go with orange and black for the rest of the quilt.

Since my brother was also an avid supporter of the local football team, I used one of his Dickinson Football shirts as the last corner square on the quilt, and the photo below shows the monogram that I had put on it.

Finishing touches

Never Forgotten

My brother was cremated, and in my house, I have a small urn engraved with his name containing a small amount of his ashes in a cubby hole that I keep as a small memorial for him.  Inside that cubby hole is also a U.S. Flag and a copy of the photo that I took and used in his obituary.  Coincidentally, the black Marines t-shirt that he is wearing in that picture is also on my quilt.  I miss and think of my brother every day.  This memory quilt is the final piece of the puzzle that I was missing, and it is proudly on display on a quilt rack in my living room for all to see and admire when they visit.

My little memorial for my brother at home.
This is another photo of my brother’s memory quilt handing on a quilt rack in my Living Room.

The photo below is an updated copy of the original picture published in the paper.  Notice that the original “HL&P” logo on his hardhat was been changed to “CenterPoint Energy” in this copy.  I found this copy one day at work on the back of an old Directory for the Hispanic Legal Association for 2013.  When the new directory for 2014 arrived in the mail, and I was going to discard the 2013 directory until I noticed his face on the back of it.  Wow!

Original picture from newspaper revised from HL&P to CenterPoint.

This concludes my story of all the quilts that Karen Overton made for me.  I have a sneaky suspicion that I will find a few other projects for us to work on in the not too distant future.

            That’s all, folks! Irma Cortez

Once again, thank you Irma for sharing your stories with us, and for being such a faithful customer!

If you missed her other guest blog appearances click here to read of her mother’s memory quilt and click here to read of her son’s t-shirt quilt.

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler Telling YOUR story one quilt at a time.

As always, we appreciate your comments and feedback.